Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider

A scintillating sheen of gold punctuated the clear May light between our kitchen verandah and the rainforest wall, some 3-metres distant.  The expanse was occupied with the enormity of a Giant Golden Orb-weaver’s web.  Many spiders greatly expand their sensory reach through variable expressions of web construction and maintenance, with the most expansive reach going to Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider – Nephila pilipes (Fabricius, 1793).  With female gigantism correlating with their proximity to the equator, the spectacularly large and strong orb-webs report the precise location of colliding prey, making neotropical Nephila the world’s dominant group of bat-catching spiders.  Holding the web under tension provides crucial information about nearby opportunities and threats, especially in darkness.  Where many other spiders dismantle their webs at the end of night to hide from birds throughout the day, then re-construct with ensuing darkness, N. pilipes always remains positioned at the centre of its enormous web.  Only cassowaries, and in all probability, Papuan Frogmouths, have a big enough gape to swallow giant orb-weavers off their webs.

Particularly attractive to the visual sensitivities of insects, the bright-yellow ventral features of the Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider attract flying insects and ensnare them in the enormity of their less-conspicuous golden orb-webs.  Small birds also fall victim to the visual allure of these dazzling yellow temptations.