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Facts About Banana or Golden Orb Spiders

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a librarian, teacher, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.

To avoid confusion, I should first point out that there are three different types of spider in the world that are sometimes referred to as "banana spiders." This article is concerned with the golden silk orb-weaver, a spider that is famous for its brightly colored, intricate webs and lives in North America, Australia, Asia, and Africa (including Madagascar).

Questions This Article Will Answer

  1. What are some cool facts about banana spiders?
  2. How big are they?
  3. What's their habitat like?
  4. How do they construct their webs?
  5. What are some human uses of banana spider silk?
  6. How are they beneficial to their environment?
  7. Are they venomous?
  8. How do banana spiders reproduce?

While there are several similar species, this article is not about the Brazilian wandering spider, which is an extremely venomous spider found in Central and South America. Nor is it about the Argiope appensa, a black and yellow spider that can be found on several islands in the Western Pacific Ocean.

This article focuses specifically on the golden silk orb-weaver spider, which is also known as the golden orb spider, the golden orb weaving spider, the golden orb weaver, the writing spider, or the giant wood spider. It is typically a black and yellow spider with stripy legs, although they can vary in color from reddish to greenish yellow.

1. Cool Facts About Banana Spiders

  1. They are also known as the golden silk orb-weaver, the writing spider, and the giant wood spider.
  2. They grow up to about two inches in size, not including leg span. Females are larger than males. Including their legs, some are over five inches in size.
  3. There are banana spiders in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the southeastern United States, from Texas to North Carolina.
  4. Their web silk is golden in color.
  5. The female normally eats the male after mating.
  6. Their species is the oldest surviving spider genus. Fossil remnants are 165 million years old.
  7. Textiles can be made with their golden silk, including a shawl woven in 2004 and a cape in 2012.
  8. Fishermen in the Indopacific Ocean make balls with the spiders' silk. After being tossed into the ocean, the balls unravel and form a net to catch fish.
  9. They are mildly venomous, causing redness, blisters, and pain at the bite area.
  10. Their Latin name, Nephila clavipes, means "fond of spinning."

2. How Big Are Banana Spiders?

They grow up to about two inches in size (not including leg span). If you do include leg span, however, some species of the spider can be measured at over five inches in size.

Female banana spiders are larger than males. The biggest banana spider ever known was a 2.7 inch female found in Australia). The female of the species is the biggest spider in Florida.

Mature female Nephila clavipes from Davie, Florida. Nephila spiders are known to be the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen discovered to be from 165 million years ago.

Mature female Nephila clavipes from Davie, Florida. Nephila spiders are known to be the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen discovered to be from 165 million years ago.

3. What's Their Habitat Like?

There are species of banana spider in Africa (including Madagascar), Asia, Australia, and the United States of America.

In the U.S., the species is called Nephila clavipes and can generally be found in the southeastern states, appearing as far north as North Carolina and as far west as Texas.

Banana spider web at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA.  Nobody is certain why the webs are yellow, but evidence suggests it serves two purposes: brightly lit silk attracts bees, and in the shade, the silk blends in as camouflage.

Banana spider web at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. Nobody is certain why the webs are yellow, but evidence suggests it serves two purposes: brightly lit silk attracts bees, and in the shade, the silk blends in as camouflage.

4. How Do They Construct Their Webs?

The yellow silk of the banana spider's web gives the golden orb its name. The silk appears golden when it shines in the sun and the webs are extremely complex. They can be as wide as one meter across.

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The yellow coloring serves two main purposes, according to scientists: First, the sunlit web attracts and traps bees that are drawn to the bright silk strands. Second, the color blends in with background foliage, acting as camouflage in darker and shadier conditions.

The spider starts by building a non-sticky spiral and then fills in the gaps with sticky silk. The banana spider can vary the color of the web to maximize its effectiveness in terms of background light and color. The web needs regular maintenance in order to keep it effective for ensnaring prey.

Banana spider (golden silk orb-weaver) pictured in Gainesville, Florida, USA. The spider's red body with white and yellow markings can be seen, as well as its black and yellow stripey legs.  The spider's golden-colored web can also be clearly seen.

Banana spider (golden silk orb-weaver) pictured in Gainesville, Florida, USA. The spider's red body with white and yellow markings can be seen, as well as its black and yellow stripey legs. The spider's golden-colored web can also be clearly seen.

5. What Are Some Human Uses of Banana Spider Silk?

There have been attempts to make clothes from the spider silk in the past. At the Paris Exhibition of 1900, for example, there were two bed hangings created and put on display. In 2004, a shawl was produced by a textile designer (Simon Peers) and an entrepreneur (Nicholas Godley), which used the silk from golden silk weavers collected in the wild. It took over three years to finish and the shawl was exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History in 2009.

In 2012 the same pair succeeded in making a larger garment, a cape. Both the shawl and the cape were shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

A cape made from golden orb spider silk exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Created by textile designer, Simon Peers, and entrepreneur, Nicholas Godley, who previously produced a shawl for the American Museum of Natural History.

A cape made from golden orb spider silk exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Created by textile designer, Simon Peers, and entrepreneur, Nicholas Godley, who previously produced a shawl for the American Museum of Natural History.

6. How Are They Beneficial to Their Environment?

Both adult and juvenile banana spiders are predators. They are considered very beneficial farm and garden insects, as they eat a wide range of flying prey, including small to medium sized flying insects.

Banana spiders eat:

  • mosquitoes
  • bees
  • butterflies
  • flies
  • small moths
  • wasps
  • grasshoppers
  • stinkbugs
  • leaf-footed bugs
  • beetles and dragonflies (rarely)

Banana spiders are rarely found in areas of row crops, because they need places to build their webs, but they are one of the most common orb-weavers in citrus and pecan groves.

The name of the spider's genus: "Nephila" comes from Ancient Greek. It means "fond of spinning", derived from the words: "nen" (to spin) and "philos" (to love).

The name of the spider's genus: "Nephila" comes from Ancient Greek. It means "fond of spinning", derived from the words: "nen" (to spin) and "philos" (to love).

7. Are They Venomous?

Are these spiders venomous? The short answer is yes, but only mildly. The venom is similar to that of a black widow spider, but nowhere near as strong and not fatal under normal circumstances. A bite will typically cause symptoms such as redness, blisters and pain around the bite. These symptoms will normally go away after a day or so.

Allergic reactions to the venom are rare, but may cause breathing problems and muscle cramps. If this happens, then medical advice should be sought immediately. It should also be remembered that like most spiders, orb weavers can be useful to people, especially gardeners, because they kill insects, such as fruit flies.

8. How Do Banana Spiders Reproduce?

Banana spiders molt in several stages. About four days before reaching her final molt, a female stops eating and repairing her web. She is sexually active at this point. When a male approaches her for copulation, he vibrates his abdomen using a plucking motion. This activity arouses the female and prevents her from eating him (at least, for the moment).

Once inseminated, the female spins at least two large (about an inch in diameter) egg sacs on a tree. These sacs each hold hundreds of eggs and are surrounded by curly, yellow silk. The male guards her as she does this. After the final molt, females can live up to a month, while males live from two to three weeks.

Females may change web sites and male partners throughout adulthood. Banana spiders produce one generation per year in North America.

What Makes a Spider a Spider?

The arachnid family doesn't just include spiders. Scorpions, mites, and ticks are also part of the arachnid family. Arachnids are creatures with two body segments, eight legs, and have no wings or antennae. They are also unable to chew. Insects have six legs and three main body parts. Most insects have wings. Spiders are classified into a special group called the Araneae that separates the spiders from other arachnids.

Are All Spiders Venomous?

In short, yes, they almost all have venom in them. However, most spider poison will not harm people because it is quite weak. Most spiders use their venom to paralyze their insect prey just long enough to devour it. Producing venom requires energy and spiders, like all arachnids, don't want to waste more energy than is absolutely necessary for their survival. That said, some spiders have venom strong enough to actually kill their prey.

Spider Adaptations

The most famous spiders are the ones that produce deadly venom, but there are thousands of species of spiders and they all have adapted to their environments in different ways. Some spiders find prey underwater and are adapted to dive under the surface, where most spiders fear to tread. Others adopt behavioral adaptations suited to their environment. Spiders design different shapes to their webs in order to catch different kinds prey. Some spiders do not design webs at all. Few creatures vary in size more than spiders do. Some spiders are hundreds of times the size of other spiders. Given that arachnids emerged onto the evolutionary scene hundreds of millions of years ago, they vary in staggering ways.

The Most Venomous Spiders in the World


Armed spiders

Central America

Phoneutria is a genus of venomous spiders in the family Ctenidae of potential medical significance to humans. They are mainly found in tropical South America, with one species in Central America.

Western black widow

Western North America

Latrodectus hesperus, the western black widow spider or western widow, is a venomous spider species found in western regions of North America. The female's body is 14–16 mm in length and is black, often with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the lower abdomen.

Brown recluse spider

North America

The brown recluse, Loxosceles reclusa, Sicariidae is a recluse spider with a necrotic venom. Similar to other recluse spider bites, their bite sometimes requires medical attention. The brown recluse is one of three spiders with medically significant venom in North America.

Sydney funnel-web spider

Eastern Australia

The Sydney funnel-web spider is a species of venomous mygalomorph spider native to eastern Australia, usually found within a 100 km radius of Sydney. It is a member of a group of spiders known as Australian funnel-web spiders. Its bite is capable of causing serious illness or death in humans if left untreated.

Chilean recluse spider


The Chilean recluse spider is a venomous spider, Loxosceles laeta, of the family Sicariidae. In Spanish, it is known as araña de rincón, or "corner spider"; in Portuguese, as aranha-marrom or "brown spider".

Why Are Some Spiders Colorful?

Many spider males have brightly colored faces, legs, and knees. These may be used for camouflage, mating displays, or, in the case of the black widow, they may be a warning about the spider's poisonous defenses. Some spiders see in color spectrums that are not possible for humans. This can explain why, sometimes, a spider's color does not match its environment. Remember, camouflage is not the only reason for why creatures are colorful. Let's take a look at some of these colorful critters below!

Why Do So Many Spiders Use Camouflage?

Camouflage through color change might be used in order to hide from a predator or from prey on flowers or different colorful surfaces. Numerous species of spiders are very efficient at tricking the eyes of their predators or their prey. Spiders can be colorful for a variety of reasons. These color adaptations produce some of the most beautiful species. Let's take a look at a few of them below!

Most Beautiful Spiders in the World


Brazilian Crab Spider


The Brazilian crab spider (Epicadus heterogaster) is one of the most beautiful of the neotropical crab spiders. Ranging in colour from pure white, to cream, to yellows and pinks. Nestled amongst flowers the modified abdomen helps it blend in and avoid detection from potential predators.

Wasp Spider

Europe, Northern Europe, North Africa, parts of Asia, and parts of North America

Argiope bruennichi is a species of orb-web spider distributed throughout central Europe, northern Europe, north Africa, parts of Asia, the Azores archipelago, as well as recent sightings in North American states such as North Carolina and Ohio.

Peacock Spider

Southern Australia

Maratus volans is a species in the jumping spider family, belonging to the genus Maratus.

Orchard Spider

From Southern Canada to Colombia

Leucauge venusta, known as the orchard spider, is a long-jawed orbweaver spider that occurs from southern Canada to Colombia, along the East coast, reaching into the central US. The web is often oriented horizontally, with the spider hanging down in the center.

Martinique Red Tree Spider


The Antilles pinktoe tarantula, also known as the Martinique red tree spider or the Martinique pinktoe is popular as a spider pet because of its docile character and unique coloration. Previously placed in the genus Avicularia, C. versicolor is native to Martinique in the Caribbean Sea.

When Did Spiders Evolve?

The evolution of spiders has been going on for at least 380 million years. The first true spiders were thin-waisted arachnids that evolved from crab-like ancestors. The ancestors of spiders lived in the water. Attercopus fimbriungus is an example of one of the first definite spiders, meaning that they had silk producing spinnerets. Over such a long time, many strange adaptations have taken place amongst spiders. Let's take a look at some of the strangest spiders on earth.

Weirdest Spiders on Earth


Longest Living

Trapdoor Spiders

They have been documented in the wild to live up to 35 years old.

Best Throwers

Net-Casting Spider

When an insect, such as a grasshopper wanders by, the ogre-faced spider throws its web as a fisherman would cast a net.

Least Venomous

Feather-legged orb weaver

The feather-legged orb weaver is a member of the Uloboridae family, the one North American spider family without any venom at all.

Most Aggressive

Velveteen tarantula

It does not take threats lightly. It will stand on its hind legs and flare its long fangs before chomping down on food or an enemy.


Desert tarantula

The spider is at least five inches across.


Cave robber

Until 2012, no one knew it existed. It was the first new family of spiders to be added to North America since 1890.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: When do gold orb spiders come out?

Answer: You are most likely to see them in the Summer months. They can be seen day or night.

Question: What eats golden orb spiders?

Answer: Birds are the main enemy of golden orb spiders. To counter the threat, golden orb spiders typically build a "barrier web" in addition to the main structure.

Question: Will golden orb spiders bite my dog?

Answer: If cornered, yes they will bite, but they are very good at getting away. They normally position themselves near the center of their web, several feet above the ground. If they detect danger, however, they will scuttle off into the shadows.

Question: How venomous is the banana spider?

Answer: The bite of a golden orb spider is not considered to be dangerous for humans. Its venom can affect very small prey, but is inconsequential for people.

Question: Would a Golden Orb spider bite humans immediately when they crawl on them, or would they just crawl on them and only bite if provoked?

Answer: They would be unlikely to bite in that situation unless they felt physically threatened. They are timid and prefer to escape from humans when possible.

Question: Do banana spiders eat bananas?

Answer: No. Banana spiders mainly eat flies, beetles, and other small bugs. Occasionally they will eat bigger creatures like locusts or small birds. They are called banana spiders possibly because their webs are yellow.

Question: Why they are called banana spiders? Ate they found on banana skin?

Answer: In the case of the golden orb spider, the likely explanation is that their webs are yellow, the same color as a banana.

© 2011 Paul Goodman


Amber Marlin on August 09, 2020:

I think that the banana spiders are really too dangerous a

round people who are smart enough not to mess with them

steven adam on February 19, 2020:

cool beans

Jill S. on December 28, 2019:

I seen a spider back in the year 1959 running next to the railroad tracks from my back yard and it ran as fast as a cat and was the size of an adult cat. Our neighbor took a snap shot of it before he pressed the hankie over it till it died on the side of house. His brother was the famous photographer Pyle. If you want the whole story from start to finish, I got that too.

Xmegatron on October 28, 2019:

I meant who do you think will win a fight over web territory my favorite the male NOBLE FALSE BLACK WIDOW SPIDER or its ENEMY the male banana spider

Xmegatron on October 27, 2019:

I have 2 (NOBLE FALSE BLACK WIDOW SPDERS) as pets i just fed them crickets i cant wait till one or both of them become males they defend themselves very very very very very well against their rivals. My qusetion is who do you think wing in fight over a female or territory a male (NOLBLE FALSE BLACK WIDOW) or its enemy the male {banana orb weaver spider}

speder freak on September 21, 2019:

aalso called calico spiders

pqer on September 21, 2019:

did't list all the places they live

keli on June 05, 2019:

normally I hate spiders, particularly large ones, but I'm doing a little research to attempt to get past the innate fear as there's been several large spiders at my office recently. trying to identify the large ones from some distance, and figure out if they're poisonous.

Preston on November 01, 2018:

I have threes to four of these creepy ass thing around my house can’t stand spiders no matter what type a dead spider is a good spider peace out

Sherwin C. on October 30, 2018:

you did not list the size of the web or what the web could be compared to!!!

Casey on September 23, 2018:

I have one on my house. Can they jump on you. Are they safe to be around animals

Kenny on August 30, 2018:

Clavipes mean clubbed foot or knotted foot.

Robert from Texas on July 21, 2018:

Here in Texas we have huge spiders we know as "banana" spiders. They look much like the spiders on your site. Yellow legs, black knees, etc.... Ours had a huge abdomen, and she put up an intricate zig-zag web. Then she disappeared, her awesome web intact. I can only hope that she lived through her life cycle and did her thing.

Dominic on July 03, 2018:

My dad said I was bit by a banana spider. And I now don't think so now. The bite was a red bump that had a bad itch to it. One time I had one right on the bottom of my foot and it made me mad when I walk.

Ralph Day on June 28, 2018:

You failed to mention the Banana Spider is found in the Philippine Islands.

Lucy Tierney on June 18, 2018:

Here in Louisiana, in Honey Island Swamp, the female can grow to the size of your hand

jeff on May 11, 2018:

please add more adaptations

Joseph marvin on May 07, 2018:

I am doing a assignment based on the banana spider and I think we as

humans should this silk as a object and more support on the san francisco bride and police vest.

Christopher on April 30, 2018:

I'm doing a presentation on this spider, I need to know...What is the Banana Spider's life span?

Ashley McDaniel on March 30, 2018:

I have a question... is there a particular time of year that they build their webs or maybe mate so forth and so on I noticed I don't see any right now this time of year but as it gets hotter they will be everywhere are they seasonal like do they only spend their webs during the warm months or can I have a little bit of information on that

jaxbon on February 26, 2018:



BananaLover2000 on February 15, 2018:


Tom on November 25, 2017:

We have these spiders in Iowa! We have acreage with lots of trees. They are sometimes found in the garden. We used to live in Florida but that was 15 years ago.

Are they native to Iowa?

boby on November 07, 2017:

these golden orb weavers are vary instresting

pinktree on November 07, 2017:

this spider is so cool i'm doing a report on it (=

beachmom17 on October 01, 2017:

If their web is in 'your space' just break it with a stick or something. After a couple of times they will relocate. Since I have left them to build their beautiful webs around the house (as long as they aren't in 'my space') I have not seen one bug or wolf spider in my house. I live on 20 acres, 15 of it treed. It is funny to see the dog come in after going after something in the trees. She actually lets me wipe her down. Their golden webs are extremely strong. No matter how hard I try to check I miss webs when getting ready to mow. So trucks have brush guards, my mower now has a web guard! Although it is quite an arobic work out to do the spider web dance when you come across one but I'm tell you they really stick to you. LOL

Ed on September 29, 2017:

I just noticed one under my eve outside in Pensacola, same web structure as in your photo.

J.B. on September 27, 2017:

Pretty cool critters as long as they're not on me. I got about a four inch one on me while on a horseback ride in the woods. Yeesh.

Paulo on September 18, 2017:

Hello!! I'm from Brazil, and i really wanted to catch this spider, but I do not know if it presents any medical danger. Or if your sting can hurt a lot ... Can I take it in my hand without manual experience?


Please, help me

BeachRob on September 12, 2017:


I read your article here and the one about the largest spiders in Florida, respectfully, I don't think you've encountered any Huntsman Spiders. I have seen ones with at least five inches of body. They are sometimes called clock spiders. I feel bad killing them, as they aren't aggressive and I think no more dangerous than a banana spider. Unfortunately, they don't respond to being chased out of the house well, and aren't desirable as a roommate. I don't see them since moving to North Florida, but they are not hard to find in South West Florida. Outside of my living space I would leave them alone as they eat annoying cicada and other pests. There was one that lives behind my shed in Bradenton that we called "Linebacker" because he or she was so big, I'm not expert enough to tell spider gender. I also never came close enough to take a measurement, but I would say his body was between 6" and 7", approximately. Thanks for the articles.