Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), League City, TX

Spinybacked Orbweaver, found in League City, Texas, on 091908Thanks to M.T. for these photos. They were taken at M.T.'s home while cleaning up after hurricane Ike. Spiders are among the first organisms seen after a hurricane. The spinybacked orbweaver is in the family Araneidae (the orb weavers), which is represented by 31 genera and 161 species in North America. Its generic name Gasteracantha (Latin, "thorny-stomached", see Ubick et al, [2005], pg. 295-6; so named by Pierre Latrielle [1762-1833] in 1831, and confirmed in 1834 by Sundervall). This, along with certain other spiders, has an armored opisthosoma, with a hard dorsal covering that is armed with spiny projections. By contrast, most spiders have relatively soft abdomens and heavily armored prosomas. This species departs the norm further by positioning its prosoma beneath the horny shell of its opisthosoma, which affords even more protection from predators. Its specific name, cancriformis, means "crab-like." The genus Gasteracantha has 69+ species worldwide, but in North America is represented by this single species. G. cancriformis is a New World spider found in the southern U.S., Central America, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas. Within its range it is found in yards, the edges of forests, and often high in trees. When one is found, others are likely to be observed nearby.   NEXT PAGE * PAGE MENU:  1  *  2  *  3  *

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