The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Northern (giant) golden orb weaver

Fact Box
Species:
Nephila pilipes (QM)
formerly Nephila maculata
Family:
Araneidae
formerly Nephilidae
Body length:
female: about 40 mm
male: 5-6 mm
Habitat:
In the centre of a large orb web in green shrubs; the smaller male is often seen on the edge of the web
Toxicity:
Unknown; not aggressive and probably harmless to humans but handle with caution
Nephila pilipes
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The same species?
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The male?
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Underneath male
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Front view

This is perhaps the most colourful of the three Nephila species found in Queensland. Its legs are relatively longer and more slender than for the other two species. Other distinguishing features are the discrete patches of bright yellow on the undersides of many leg joints and the red colour of the palps.

As is probably true for all Nephila species, the male is much smaller than the female and does not look much like it. Its plain brown colouring and erect leg spines are not characteristics of the female. There is a slightly twisted needle-like appendage projecting back from the bulb at the end of the male palp and this is another diagnostic feature of Nephila males.

Unlike the other common Australian Nephila species Nephila pilipes is claimed to lay its eggs on the ground in leaf litter rather than binding the fluffy egg mass onto a dry twig well above ground level.

Nephila pilipes is primarily a tropical spider but is occasionally found in rainforest areas of southern Queensland.

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


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