On the Hunt for the Golden Silk (Banana) Spider

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- First Coast News reporter David Williams was on the hunt. He was hunting for something golden, something silky with eight legs and a lot of eyes. It's something that is common in Florida. He set out to find the Banana spider.

Its real name is the Golden Silk Spider, Nephila clavipes (linnaeus) according to the University of Florida's Institution of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

"It is the largest of the orb-weaver spiders," said George Richardson, Technical Director of Peninsular Pest Control Service. Richardson was leading the expedition.

"Most of the spiders that we're seeing now in landscapes are the orchard orb-weaver," Richardson said.

They are in the Golden Silk's family.

"The orchard orb weaver has markings on its underside that resemble black widows," said Richardson.

The hunt moved on. Are orb weavers, including Banana Spiders, dangerous? It turns out they do bite if caught in your clothes or pinch, says Richardson.

"A spider bite is normally going to be less painful than a bee sting and will go away usually within 24 hours," he explained.

But, do the Golden Silk Spiders have a connection to the weather? A blogger noted years ago that some Banana Spiders disappeared one summer, a week before a major hurricane.

"I've never heard that. It's an interesting concept," Richardson said.

They like to build their webs between shrubs and your home's corners and can be as big as a finger. The orb weavers are beneficial because they eat insects. What eats them? The Dirt Dauber wasp, which FCN watched in action. The wasp swooped in and plucked the orb weaver spider right off of its web and carried it into the sky.

Richardson cut open one of the wasp's nests and he looked inside. Low and behold, he found what looked like a dead Golden Silk Spider.

Richardson said the First Coast usually sees the Banana Spiders later in the year through the Fall.

If you see one, unless it really bothers you, you usually don't have to worry.


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