Friday, August 31, 2007

Golden silk spider

When traveling between the Panhandle and central Florida we always try to take a break at the mid-way point in the small logging town of Perry. If it is still light we prefer to stop at a state historical park on the south end of town which commemorates Florida's long leaf pine forests and their contribution to the state's history and development.

On our latest journey we arrived at dusk to stretch our legs and use the restroom. I took a short stroll along the edge of a thickly wooded area that gently slopes down into a large bug infested swamp. It was here that I encountered some very large and colorful specimens of Nephila clavipes, commonly known as the golden silk spider.

This swollen beauty rests after a moth and beetle supper.

According to the University of Florida science website: "The golden silk spider is found throughout Florida and the southeastern United States. The female is distinctively colored, and is among the largest orb-weaving spiders in the country. The female is 25 mm to 40 mm long and has conspicuous hair tufts on her long legs. Males are about 4 mm to 6 mm long, dark-brown, and are often found in the webs of females. These spiders feed primarily on flying insects, which they catch in webs that may be greater than a meter in diameter. They are most commonly found in forests, along trails and at clearing edges."

She's all girl!

So the next time you find yourself down in Taylor County make sure you stop at the Forest Capital State Historical Park and check out the most amazing array of giant orb web spinning spiders you're likely to see this side of the Amazon jungle. Happy hunting.