Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae (fangs slope towards each other in a pinching action)
Family: Nephilidae

Genus/species: Nephila madagascariensis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have striped legs specialized for weaving (where their tips point inward, rather than outward as is the case with many wandering spiders). In females, the dorsal side of the abdomen has bright yellow markings surrounded by a light gray border. The rest of the body and legs are black with patches of brown. 4.8 – 5.1 cm (1.5 – 2 in) in females, not including leg span, with males being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in). Named for yellow threads of their web shine like gold in sunlight not the color of the spider.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Various species of orb weaving spiders are widely distributed. They exist in the southern United States, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. Nephila madagascariensis madagascariensis is found on the island of Madagascar and certain parts of Southern Africa. 

Spinning web below

Golden Orb16121279421_89d739a11a_o

DIET IN THE WILD: Eat insects that get caught in their webs, primarily flying insects. They kill their prey with a venomous bite. While painful, a bite from this spider would not seriously hurt humans.

Golden Orb Weaver

LONGEVITY:: Females usually live about a year, and males about 6 mos.

REMARKS: Golden orb spiders weave large, strong webs out of golden-colored silk which can be as big as 2 m across. The silk strands are reputed to be five times stronger than steel and three times more elastic than Kevlar.
The oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen known from 165 million years ago.

Rainforest, Madagascar


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California Academy of Sciences: Madagascar Golden Orb Spider exhibit 2014