The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Coastal golden orb-weaver

Fact Box
Nephila plumipes (Hawkeswood, Platnick)
Previous species name:
Nephila ornata
formerly Nephilidae
Body length:
female: 21 mm
male: 5 mm
In a large web, sometimes extending to the ground and strung between tree branches, the spider occupying its web during the day
The venom of this species is not considered to be very toxic to humans
Nephila plumipes
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With egg sacs
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Female in web
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The male palp
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Male and female
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Another specimen
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Underneath female
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Immat. male palp
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The male

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, the small male often waiting on the periphery of the web.

An important characteristic of the female is the presence of yellow bands near the end of each leg segment. Also variable is the colour patterns of immature specimens of both female and male specimens, the latter having the colours of the female but a large (though incompletely developed) pointed embolus on its palp. Note that that embolus of the adult male is visibly twisted, which seems to be a characteristic unique to this Nephila species.

The web is remarkably strong and has a characteristic yellow colour as does the fluffy egg sac which tends to be left in the tree the spider was using for support. Nephila webs normally contain a string of debris masses which are the remains of insects the spider has eaten. The tendency to produce such a string is rare among orb weaver species so this is a useful identification feature.

East of the Lockyer Valley this species is often found in very large numbers but it is less common on the Darling Downs, Nephila edulis being the main species present there.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Nephila edulis and Nephila pilipes.

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 13 May 2016.