Banana Spider or Golden Silk Orb spider is a fascinating creature. They are species of Nephila clavipes. This word is derived from the Greek language which means “Fond of Spinning”. There are 23 spices of Banana spider found in the world. Other names of Banana spiders are Golden Silk Spider, Golden Silk Orb Weaver, Giant Wood Spider, Calico Spider & Writing Spider. In Brazile, These spiders found in banana plantations. That is the reason these spiders name is a banana spider. It spins impressive webs. These creatures are harmless for the human being. These may be beneficial in the garden.
Classification of Banana Spider
Here are 10 facts about Banana Spider or Golden Orb Spider:
1.Fact Behind the Name
The Golden word is not for the color of spider but this is color of the silk. The web is spin by this spider is yellow. When the light of Sun falls on the web it looks like gold. Carotenoid is the main contribution in the yellow color of the silk. These golden color are useful to attract the bees and other insects. While at night or in the shade, this yellow web blends in with the foliage in the background and act as camouflage. It is able to adjust the pigment intensity relative to the background light intensity & color.
2. Unique Web
These spiders spin asymmetric and large webs which has unique and complex zigzag pattern. Firstly it makes a non-sticky spiral web. After completing course weaving, the female spider comes back again and fills the gaps. The length of these webs is usually up to one and a half meters. The web is always asymmetric and center is always lies in the upper part of the web. It means that the majority of sticky parts is found in the lower part of the web. They renew their webs regularly. These spiders always live in their webs that is the reason the chance of being captured is high. To reduce the risk of capturing, it should spin the barrier web structure any one side of the web.
The third fact about banana spider is that the size of male spider is less than the female one. The size of female one is between 4.8 cm to 5.1 cm. excluding the size of legspan. While the size of male one is two thirds less than female one that is less than 2.5 cm. The largest female size was 6.9 cm. that found in Queensland, Australia. The legspan of these spiders as big as 5 inches. The banana spider found in Taiwan is about 13 cm long including the legspan.
Banana spider usually eats small insects, butterflies, stinkbugs, leaf-footed bugs, grasshoppers, locusts, mosquitos etc. When the prey is stuck in the web it wraps it in a silk-like cocoon. These spiders are able to eat small birds, bats, and snake also. This spider is also able to catch and eat the small size of a finch. A banana spider caught and consumed about a half meter long brown tree snake, in 2012, in Queensland. This spider changes their diet according to the types of food available and the time of year.
Male spider stays on the web with a female to perform the mating rituals. There are two to three male on a single web, these number can also increase. A male spider has three penises. A female spider has 2 insemination ducts, each ending in a sperm storage organ. Usually, When a female is freshly molted then mating occurs. Due to numbers of male presence in the single web. There is competition between male for mating but usually small males selected for mating. Female spider usually eats the male one after mating. Female makes an egg-sac near the web to protect their eggs. Then eggs are deposited in the thin sheet of silk. Then it covered by the silk platform to give the shape of the sac. The sac may have 300 to 3000 eggs which depend upon the success of mating and species.
It also changes its body according to sunlight to maintain the body temperature. It keeps its body temperature at optimal state. When the temperature of surrounding increases, it hides its body in the shades. As temperature goes down, it keeps positioning itself perpendicular to the sunlight . To gain the much energy to keep the body temperature maintained. Due to losing of hydrostatic pressure it hangs on the web on its hind leg as a result of the heat. When the surrounding temperature goes high like 40-degree centigrade. It leaves its web and search for a shaded and cool place.
7. Use of Web in Textile
Textiles can be made with their golden silk. The spiders were somehow fastened while spinning and the extruding thread was coiling up. In 2004, textile designer, Simon Peers, and Nicholas Godley made a shawl. They used 1.2 million of Golden Silk Orb-weavers. In 2012, they both made another large garment by using Golden Silk Orb was a cape. These both garments exhibited at London museum in 2012. But it was never possible to make the garments of golden silk for commercial use. The tensile strength of its dragline thread is more than Kevlar. The use of Kevlar is to make the bulletproof vests. The dragline thread is stronger than steel and it is biodegradable also. Its silk has antibacterial properties also.
8. Source of Proteins
The natives of South Pacific eats the pregnant female as a protein supplement. And they relish them either raw or roasted. The fishermen of Indo-Pacific Ocean remove the webs of spider and shape it into a ball. They throw the ball into the water. When it goes in the water, it unfolds and works as baitfish to catch the bigger fishes. According to different reports, it has a nutty flavor like peanut butter but a sticker.
9. Fun Fact Related to Movie
In the film, Twelve Monkeys, Jed Cole is incarcerated in a mental hospital located in Baltimore, Maryland. He catches and swallows what appears to be a banana spider or a close similar species. The filmmakers got it wrong as Baltimore is well outside the known range of Nephila in the U.S.A.
10. Misunderstanding Due to Size
Due to the large size of it sometimes people assume that it is dangerous for a human being. But in reality, it is shy in nature. But when it bit, it is mildly venomous, causing redness, blisters, and pain at the bite area. It does not require medical attention unless a person experiences breathing difficulty or muscle spasms. Banana spiders species are the oldest surviving descent of spider. Fossils remnants of this species are about 165 million old. It found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the southeastern United States.