Minti the golden orb web spider
Also known as golden orb weaver, golden orb-weaving spider, or golden orb spider
Hello. Nice of you to drop in.
I'm Minti the golden orb-web spider. I get my name from the colour of the golden silk I spin for my web. Most spiders spin white or silver webs. But golden orb spiders like me want nothing but the best.
I make my home by stringing a huge golden web between tree branches. The photo at left was taken when I was experimenting — trying to find the right place to make my home.
Unfortunately, this one didn't work. No insects visited in 24 hours, so I looked at where my sisters and cousins were building their houses, then moved a lot higher and built a lot bigger. It was the best choice I could have made.
Why such a posh web?
Look at my beautiful golden silk in the photo above. It's an attempt to catch classy insects. I make it extremely strong and large, because I'm such a large spider. I have to catch more food than most spiders, so a large web two or three metres across catches more insects.
Am I dangerous?
I'm not aggressive. If you come close to me I will run up to the top of my web to get away. If I am forced to bite you it may cause numbness, swelling, and pain.
Why does my abdomen have a face on it?
Look at the photo at right. It looks like a huge human's head with a face on it. See the two eyes, and a mouth? This is the golden orb-weaver's “scarecrow”. I like to think that when birds see this on my abdomen they think a little human is grinning at them, so they swerve away.
Some people say I look like a little parachustist dropping from the sky. Look at the picture below and see what you think.
My warning signals
I have to admit that some birds do crash into my web. It's a nuisance, because they are too big to eat, and I have to fix the mess they make of my web.
I also try to warn birds away by hanging evidence of my catch above me.
Any moths, butterflies, bugs or other food that gets caught in my web gets wrapped up and hung out to dry.
This should scare the feathers off any bird that doesn't want to end up the same way.
What do I do all day?
I sit in my web all through the day and night. I prefer the warm summer sun, but don't mind a little wind or rain.
If the wind and rain are strong, I usually dismantle part of my web to create a large hole for the wind to flow through so it doesn't destroy my web.
You can see this in the photo above. It was raining with strong wind when this photo was taken at 9 o'clock one Sunday morning. I created a hole about 40 centimetres (16 inches) in diameter, and left it like that for most of the day.
Sometimes several golden orb spiders make webs that run into one another. This can create a very wide string of webs that catch an enormous number of insects.
Even though webs sometimes overlap, we maintain our own independent web.
My egg sac
When I create my egg sac, it is fluffy and coloured gold like my web.
It is about 4 centimetres, oval, with some leaves fastened to it. The eggs are a millimetre in diameter, and I lay at least 200 of them. I leave my egg sac in the tree near one of the ends of my web.
Male golden-orb web spiders are much smaller than females — about one-quarter our size. The male sitting at the top of my web is pictured in the inset on the photo at right. The scale of his size to mine is close to accurate in the photo.
Warm high areas seem to work best for my web. The area between trees is ideal, because so many flying insects come through there on the breezeway.
At Calamvale Creek, some of the golden orb weavers have found the perfect height of three to four metres above the ground to catch swarms of dragonflies that like to circle on the air currents.
— Minti the golden orb web spider