The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Garden orb-weaver

Fact Box
Eriophora transmarina (QM)
Previous species name:
Araneus transmarinus
formerly Argiopidae
Body length:
female: 24 mm
male: 16 mm
In a typical orb-shaped web between branches of shrubs; the spider usually is in the web in the evening but hiding in a retreat above it during the daylight hours; the legs are normally extended at night since the spider is feeding but retracted against the front of the spider by day
Uncertain; may cause mild illness but this spider is not very aggressive to humans and tries to escape if approached
Eriophora transmarina
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Plain coloured
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Striped example
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Side view
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In web at night
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Egg mass
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Female epigynum
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Spotted female
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Camouflage colours

The female is considerably larger than the male, which tends to wait on the edge of the web. An unusual feature of the female is the variation in colour and patterning on the upper surface of its shield-shaped abdomen. Some individuals have a white or reddish longitudinal stripe down the centre of the abdomen while others have almost no abdominal patterning.

A useful identifying feature on a female is the long, needle-like epigynum which points backwards towards the spinnerets. Unless the weather is overcast, this spider only occupies the web at night. During the day it hides in a leafy retreat (or under a ledge on a building) to which the top of the web is attached. The female has the common araneid characteristic of drawing its legs up against its carapace when in its retreat. Egg masses are sometimes seen anchored near the female's retreat and have the appearance of a mass of fluffy webbing that is off-white to grey-green in colour.

Please note that the photos shown on this page are thought to be those of Eriophora transmarina as described by VT Davies (Queensland Museum) in 1980 but it is now clear that some or all of them could instead be Eriophora biapicata which Davies also named. The descriptions given by Davies for these species are now very difficult to access but it is generally agreed that the males and females of both E. biapicata and E. transmarina are so similar in appearance (both varying greatly in surface markings from specimen to specimen) that the two species can only be distinguished by a careful comparison of their genitalia. Indeed, there is some justification for suggesting they are not separate species but are actually part of what should be referred to as the 'Eriophora transmarina complex'. However, at the present time E. transmarina is claimed to be the species most likely to be found in Northern Australia (never south of Sydney) but not in arid regions whereas E. biapicata is the more common species in Southern Australia and in the arid centre of the continent. Unfortunately, the ranges of these two species overlap in South Queensland and Northern NSW.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Some other Araneus or Eriophora species, such as Backobourkia brounii, Eriophora biapicata, and Acroaspis species.

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 3 January 2016.