Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus)

Marbled Orbweaver Christy N, Brown Co. IN 100608The photo on the right was taken by Christy N., of Brown County, Indiana (in the south central part of the state, just south of Indianapolis). She wrote: "Hi, we found this spider on our dining canopy in Brown County, Indiana. Never seen anything like it. Is it the Western Spotted Orb-Weaver? The photo was taken with my cell-phone, at our lake-house. Thanks for any information." Several of our orb-weavers have this generalized marking pattern, i.e., a wavy mark on each side of the dorsal abdomen connected laterally by one or more thinner marks. The marbled orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) has the yellow-orange background, with brown to purple markings in five undulations, and the set of spots on the anterior dorsal abdomen displayed by your specimen. This species is found throughout North America, as far north as Alaska, and south to Texas. This is a strikingly beautiful spider; the mature female is 9-11mm in length, while the male is but 5.9 to 9mm (B.J. Kaston, 3rd. Ed.) The genus Araneus was named by the Swedish arachnologist Carl Alexander Clerck in 1757 (see Ubick et al, [2005], pg. 279 for additional details on this subject). James H. Emerton (1961), in his book "The Common Spiders of the United States," identifies this spider as Epeira insularis or marmorea, and explains that the adult females are from one half to three quarters of an inch long, the male about half that size. It builds a web in bushes, with a separate retreat of leaves where the female keeps out of sight; the retreat is connected to the hub of the web by a thread.

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