Nephila clavipes is a large size and brightly colored species of the orb-web spider family. Nephila comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “fond of spinning.” Most people call them banana or golden silk spiders, but other common names are calico spider, giant wood spider, golden silk orb weaver and writing spiders. The ‘golden’ refers to the color of the silk, not the color of the spider, for the web of a mature female has yellow threads which look like rich gold in the sunshine.
N. clavipes is the only species of the genus Nephila to be found in the Western Hemisphere. They live in warm regions, from North Carolina and across the Gulf States through Central America, as far south as Argentina, and in the West Indies (found extensively throughout Puerto Rico).
Banana spiders are really wonderful creatures. Their dragline thread (the silk) is of particular benefit to us as they weave strong webs compared to some other spiders. Currently, there are tests being done on their silk as it surpasses the strength of “Kevlar,” a fiber used in bulletproof vests.
Facts | Photo © Antonio Baeza