Orb weaver spider is the collective name for a group of spiders in the family Araneidae. This diverse group of arachnids are famous for the large, Halloween-inspired webs they create. Are orb weavers venomous? Should we be concerned when we encounter one in our yard or garden? The short answer to these questions is yes, they are venomous but no, they aren’t dangerous to humans. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating species of spider.
Orb weavers are large spiders that are most commonly seen in late summer and early fall. They eat small insects like flies, moths, wasps, mosquitoes, and beetles. Around your home, orb weavers can often be found near outdoor lights, in tall grass and weeds, on tree branches, fences, walls, and bushes. There are 180 species of orb weaver spiders in North America alone. They are found throughout the world on every continent except Antarctica. Many species of orb weavers are bright yellow or orange in color while others are a dull gray or brown.
Orb weavers are not hunters or wanderers. They are typically nocturnal spiders and will build or repair their webs at night. Many species will tear down and eat their webs at dawn to both consume the dew that catches on them for hydration and to keep larger animals like birds from tearing down their webs. Orb weaver webs are large, circular grid webs that look like the spokes of a wagon wheel connected by concentric circular strands. These webs can measure up to 3 feet in diameter. These spiders will sit in their webs and wait for prey. Once captured, they will bite and paralyze their victim and warp them in silk to consume later.
While orb weaver spiders can bite and are venomous, they are not considered a threat to humans. In fact, they are beneficial to have around your home as they eat other nuisance pests and help keep their populations under control. These spiders are very docile and non-aggressive. They will usually flee when threatened but will bite if necessary. The bite of an orb weaver has been compared to a bee sting.
While they don’t threaten humans or structures, they can be unsightly and their webs can be a hindrance if built in a high traffic area. If you have a problem with spiders or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for assistance with pest control and prevention.