Golden Orb Weaver – a small life well lived

We were pleased to see a big orb web strung between palms, bananas and the cubby-house at the back of our garden towards the end of May.

Its architect, constructor and homeowner was resting, head down, in the middle of it. I introduced our three species of Golden Orb Weaver here so I don’t need to say much about her identity today except that she was an Australian Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila edulis.

Golden orb weaver
Golden orb weaver

We watched her as she entertained several boyfriends (and probably ate them, but that’s spiders for you) in the course of the next few weeks. We were pleased for her when she grew even more rotund and then laid a lot of eggs in a golden mass under the eave of the cubby.

Nephila egg mass
Egg mass of Golden Orb Weaver

We were sad for her when she lost two legs, probably to bird-strike, but she seemed to be okay, since was with us for quite a while after that.

Missing: two left legs

And then she wasn’t. We know that spiders can regenerate lost legs with their next moult, so perhaps the bird came back for a second try.

All that we saw was the empty web, gradually disintegrating under the hazards of falling leaves, blundering giant grasshoppers, etc. Not poor materials, I must say: the bits which weren’t broken were still as good as ever, even six weeks later.

We’re now looking forward to the emergence of her babies. They will disperse widely when they hatch but some will stay with us if we’re lucky.

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