Banana spiders are a unique species found in the tropical regions of the world. They get their name from their yellow and black coloring, similar to the colors of a banana. They also spin banana-colored silk into giant yellow webs! Some species of this unique yellow spider originated in South and Central America. Still, there is a special type of banana spider living in Florida. What are Florida banana spiders, and how are they different? Keep reading to discover more about these incredible yellow arachnids!
What are Florida Banana Spiders?
The prominent banana spider in Florida is called the Golden Silk Orb Weaver. This spider is also sometimes called the Banana Spider or the Writing Spider. It is one of the largest spiders in Florida, with a body length of about 1.5 inches (4 cm) and a leg span of up to 5 inches (13 cm). The female banana spider of this species is usually much larger than the male.
The color yellow is what makes this spider so unique from many other arachnid species. The Golden Silk Orb Weaver gets its name from the yellow color of its silk and the large, round webs it builds.
This specific banana spider isn’t usually dangerous to humans, although a bite may cause some local swelling and pain.
How Do They Make Their Yellow Webs?
The Golden Silk Orb Weaver is an expert at spinning webs of bright yellow silk. It begins by turning a central spiral of silk, which it then covers with a sticky substance. The Golden Silk Orb Weaver then spins outwards from the center, creating concentric circles of non-sticky silk. This motion is how their web turns into the shape of an orb. Finally, this banana spider coats the entire web with another layer of sticky silk, ensuring no prey can escape. This stunning spider’s web is beautiful and incredibly strong, making it the perfect trap for unsuspecting insects.
Where do Florida Banana Spiders live?
In addition to making Florida their home, Golden Silk Orb Weavers also live in other southern and Gulf states of North America.
But these spiders live in multiple countries and continents. Here’s a list of countries where you can find this species of banana spider:
- Central America
- North America (mainly Southern and the Gulf States)
- South America
- West Indies
Golden Silk Orb Weavers live in wooded areas and gardens, building webs between trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. The first reports of banana spiders being introduced into the United States came in 1862. Since that time the species has been gradually moving to more northerly environments. Their northern limit is currently in states like North Carolina, Tennesee, and Arkansas.
What do Golden Silk Orb Weavers eat?
Banana spiders of Florida are known to eat various insects and arthropods. However, they mainly hunt flying insects. Some of their favorites include bees, flies, and wasps, but Gold Silk Orb Weavers occasionally eat dragonflies and beetles.
Thanks to their diet, Golden Silk Orb Weavers play an essential role in keeping the population of certain harmful insects under control.
Here’s a list of some of the banana spider’s favorite foods:
- leaf-footed bugs
How Do Florida Banana Spiders Reproduce?
Golden Silk Orb Weaver spiders typically mate in the fall, just before the female spider dies. The male spider will approach the female and touch her with his small pedipalps, which are leg-like appendages near the mouth. This action will trigger the release of a web from the female’s abdomen, which the male will then use to pull the female towards him.
Once the two spiders are close enough, they mate. Later the female will lay her eggs, which she will encase in silk and attach to a web. The eggs hatch after around two weeks, and the spiderlings will disperse to create their own webs.
Are Golden Silk Orb Weavers dangerous to humans?
Banana spiders are not often dangerous to humans, but their bites can be slightly painful. The bite might feel similar to a bee sting, with some swelling and redness at the bite site.
A bite from this yellow spider should not cause the need for emergency medicine unless someone is allergic to the mild venom.
Can you keep Golden Orb Weaver spiders as pets?
Golden Silk Orb Weaver spiders are beautiful, docile creatures that make great pets. They are easy to care for and don’t require much space. Here are some tips on keeping a Golden Silk Orb Weaver as a pet:
1. Provide a large ventilated tank or enclosure. Golden Silk Orb Weavers need room to build their webs, so make sure their tank is big enough to move around freely.
2. Give them plenty of places to hide. Florida banana spiders like to feel safe and secure, so provide them with plenty of hiding spots. Some hidden spaces are made by adding plants, branches, or other objects to their tank.
3. Keep the tank clean. Golden Silk Orb Weavers are sensitive to their environment, so it’s important to keep their aquarium clean and free of any toxins or chemicals. Use safe cleaning products and have fresh water available at all times.
5. Handle them with care. Golden Silk Orb Weavers are delicate creatures and should be handled with care. Be gentle when holding them and never grab or squeeze them.
By following these spider care tips, you can successfully keep a Golden Silk Orb Weaver as a pet. In addition, these spiders make great companions for arachnid enthusiasts.
The Art of Banana Spider Silk
Did you know that some people gather the webs from the Golden Orb Weaver spiders to make golden-colored clothing? It’s true! A team of weavers in Madagascar created a shawl entirely from the yellow silks of two million of these spiders. The shawl is a significant art piece displayed at museums around the world.
Golden Orb Weavers live near rivers in Madagascar. They build large webs that can span up to 10 feet wide! This spider’s web is one of the strongest known natural fibers. Woven spider silk is more robust than steel and Kevlar, making it an ideal material for creating durable clothing.
The weavers harvested the yellow spider silk in two ways. First, one part of the team collected spider webs from local areas. Then, the other team members gently extracted the silk from collected spiders at a facility with weaving machines. The spiders are unharmed during this process of removing the silk by hand. Once gathered, the silk was woven into thread and cloth.
The process of creating the golden shawl took nearly four years to complete. Every inch of the cloak comes from spider silk, including the fringes.
The resulting cloth is incredibly strong and beautiful. It’s no wonder that the golden shawl created from this cloth is such a treasured art piece. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll own a piece of clothing made from the delicate silk of the Golden Silk Orb Weaver spider!
Florida Banana Spiders Are Captivating!
Florida banana spiders are unique and fascinating creatures. From their enormous wheel-shaped webs to their pretty yellow silk, these spiders make a noticeable mark in the world of arachnids. In addition, the large Golden Silk Orb Weaver is unique in color and thankfully isn’t poisonous to humans. So, this spider species is ideal for raising in captivity with the proper care and equipment.
If you find this banana spider in Florida or elsewhere, respect its space and watch it work its magic. Seeing the female spin her intricate yellow web into a stunning circular design is a real treat.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Max Rossa/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.