Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Labyrinth Orbweaver

This calico-colored spider is the labyrinth orbweaver (Metepeira labyrinthea)in the family Araneidae. There are 13 species within this genus occurring throughout North America. They are fairly small spiders with a legspan about the size of a nickel. The front legs are much longer than the other pairs of legs and are banded in two-tone brown and tan. Their abdomen is oval-shaped and bulbous and is a deep reddish brown in color with distinct white markings.
Their common name comes from the type of web they are known for weaving. They build an orb-shaped web running vertical of a maze-like "labyrinth" located above and behind the orb. These webs will be found 3 to 5 feet above the ground in shrubs. This messy labyrinth often contain bits of debris or leaves woven in such a way to give the spider a retreat for safety. The web of this species is so distinct that it is possible to ID the spider before even seeing it.

Females reach maturity in late August or early September and you may encounter males hanging out in the web with them. After mating the female will create eggs sacs as uniquely shaped as their web is. Each egg sac is lenticular or lentil-shaped. The biconvex eggs are guarded by the female, as seen here, and are located near the entrance of the retreat. She will weave them with silk attached to small twigs. The female dies by late fall or early winter, but the egg sacs will remain attached to the twigs until spring at which time they hatch. The spiderlings will cluster together for a few days before ballooning and dispersing themselves into the environment.


  1. At the end of a tagging session last night we started the discussion with the statement it's just a bug. We then had the participants tell us their thoughts and why these insects were so beneficial.

  2. Just wanted to comment on how much I enjoy your site here. The pictures are prolific, and the descriptions always very detailed and fun to read. I try to swing by regularly.