Spider safari with Luke Street

Luke loves photographing some of the unusual, smaller things he comes across on safari. This week he has decided to share some pictures and incredibly interesting facts about the Gold Orb-web spider (Nephila):

  1. There are 15 species of Nephila found throughout the world, four of these are in Southern Africa.
  2. Nephila komci, which is the species found in the Timbavati, is the largest known spider to spin a web. Its web is also the largest known orb web to be produced in the world.
  3. The female spiders are much larger than the males of the species. Females have a leg span of around 120 mm while the males only measure 9 mm. The male weighs less than a thousandth of the female!
  4. The genus name Nephila roughly translated from Ancient Greek means “fond of spinning”. With webs that span up to 6 meters, the name seems most apt.
  5. The webs are so large and made of such strong silk that they have been known to capture small birds. The webs can last up to two years, whereas most spider webs only last a few hours or a couple of days.
  6. Although this spider is very scary to look at and can bring out the arachnophobia in any of us, they are mostly non aggressive and harmless. If forced they can give a nasty bite, but the venom is not fatal.
  7. Mating is a very risky affair as the male runs the risk of being devoured by the female after copulation. He has to wait until the large female spider is feeding which is when he runs up, mates with her and then makes a hasty retreat.
  8. The strong, golden coloured silk has never been successfully produced for cloth, but it has been used for medical research in tissue renewal.


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