ANIMAL: Madagascar Golden Orb-Weaver Spider Nephila malagassa Type of Animal: Orb-Weaver Spider Habitat: Urban/suburban areas, riparian forest, areas around plants/flowers, prefer reasonably wet areas, more common in disturbed areas Location(s): Madagascar Appearance: Females much larger than males, slender red legs, females have highly elongated silvery black abdomen, males have rounder abdomens w/ darker black & red markings Food/Diet: Flies, beetles, locusts, small moths, cicadas, small birds, bats, bees, wasps, small butterflies, small dragonflies Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding from zoos & breeders Lifestyle: Often found in sizeable aggregations, each female w/ own web, sometimes males will be found near webs. Other times males can be found in loose groups. Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young-Spiderling Group-Clutter/Cluster Weight: Male: 0.004 grams Female: 4 grams Gestation: 1 month Life Span: 1 year Leg Span: Male: 1 in Female: 4-5 in Body Length: Male: 0.2 in Female: 1.5 in Main predators of adults are birds & wasps of family Sphecidae. Other wasps & damselflies prey on juveniles. Females build large, semi-permanent orb webs. Webs often parasitized by Argyrodes spiders, who compete for some of the same prey. Often called golden silk spiders. Each female usually lays 100-200 eggs in a silk-wrapped case. Uses 3 main attack methods to subdue prey-long bites for more active or armored prey, bite & retreat w/ large prey, & seize & pull w/ smaller prey. Both sexes typically die after molting, a month for female & 2-3 weeks for males. Smaller males have higher fitness most likely due to higher agility in reaching female’s web. Fun Fact(s): In 2004, an 11 ft x 4 ft golden tapestry/shawl was spun entirely from silk of over 1.2 million of these spiders by textile maker Simon Peters & fashion expert Nicholas Godley. Took 4 years to make & was exhibited at American Museum of Natural History in New York. Silk from webs has been used in medical research in tissue engineering. Their webs are so strong that females can be housed in open exhibits & not escape. Males being more nomadic would escape. Breeding can be a dangerous feat since females sometimes kill males when not receptive (cannibalism is rare). They’re venomous w/ a mild neurotoxin. Bites to humans very rare. Allergic reactions usually involve asthma-like symptoms or involuntary muscle cramps.
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