Note: Should you suffer from arachnophobia, read no further.

Relax, this is not a terrorist situation. Well, depending on your perception, it is a situation which can indeed strike terror into even the stoutest of hearts. I discovered the trap late on Sunday afternoon when I walked down the garden path to open the gate: my head and face became swathed in something sticky … so sticky that whatever it was brushed off with some difficulty. As it must have been a spider web, I crouched low to avoid it on my return journey – walking in the crouched position far longer than required I might add – then stood up to see what I had just missed.

Even in the glow of the almost setting sunlight I could see the unmistakeable golden strands running in all directions right across the garden path. Thankfully I am too short to have walked into the actual spider which stood guard plonk in the middle:

This is a member of the golden orb spider family known as Trichonephila fenestrata or more commonly as the Hairy Golden Orb-weaver. I cannot help noticing that from this angle its markings look like a face complete with teeth. It is this spider that is keeping us hostage for the time being – how can we expect visitors to come up the garden path only to walk into this large, very strong and rather sticky web and even come face to face with the spider? Happily we have a back entrance that we will use until such time the spider decides it is time to go. One look at its long dark brown or black legs with hairy brushes and I feel sure you would do the same.

The web not only stretches right across the garden path, but seems to have multiple supporting lines that provide considerable depth to the web. These threads take on a beautiful golden colour in the sunlight. While I was photographing it this afternoon, an unsuspecting bee flew into the web. The spider was off in a second, ready to deal with its prey.

Here it appears to be puncturing the bee. This would be to paralyse it prior to wrapping it up in silk to consume later.

It is difficult to see in the light, but I think the spider may be wrapping up its prey here.

The smaller spider in the image below appeared as I was about to leave. I cannot help wondering if this is the male – they are much smaller than the females and generally have to approach the female with great care or they might end up as a meal!

By looking back in my journals, I note that we have hosted a number of golden orb spiders in our garden over the years – usually in March. One took over a large portion of my wash line; another set up home just outside our kitchen door – that one even caused a pair of burly, bullet-proof vested security guards to shiver in their combat boots when they came to check why our burglar alarm had gone off. Mostly the webs have been spun fairly high up and out of the way.




  1. What a fantastic spider, Anne! How large is she actually – she looks to have a leg span of a good four or five inches, but maybe I’m exaggerating. If I was the male I’d definitely be shaking in my boots. I wonder if he’s approached her because he knows she’s busy eating?


    • It is actually larger than the size of my outstretched hand and is rather beautiful to look at. I have been watching it every day. That smaller spider, that I am assuming is the male, was definitely not there when I began taking photographs this afternoon. If it is, then I agree that he is taking a chance to approach her while she is otherwise occupied.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely stunning, Anne, and a beautiful set of photos.
    I walked face first into a similar huge web while on a weekend holiday in the bush to go see Haley’s Comet!
    I was new in South Africa, and not famiar with these arachnids. Gave me quite a start!
    We’ve had a few orb weavers at our spot but never seen one like this.
    Lucky fish!


    • Thank you for this interesting response, Ark. These are not the happiest of webs to walk into when in the bush – the golden orb spiders are fond of spinning their webs between leaves and branches spaced fairly far apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: WE ARE BEING HELD HOSTAGE — Something Over Tea – ° BLOG ° Gabriele Romano

    • Well, at least we have another way around. We have avoided using our front door all summer because of the White-rumped Swifts nesting just outside it – mainly because of the mess they make 🙂

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    • Thank you. Unlike the large hairy rain spiders that can appear anywhere, once you discover a golden orb spider you know it will stay put and can be avoided.


  4. That is one big scarey spider! I get loads of small ones indoors here and however often I clean the webs are back very quickly – I joke that this is where paent dspiders bring their little ones for ‘Web building Boot camp’! But I think if I had one that big I would leave it well alone.


    • ‘Web-building Boot Camp’: I must remember this for our home gets inundated with smallish spiders now and then and, try as I might, I cannot keep the cobwebs at bay either. Fortunately, these golden orb spiders do not appear indoors 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d have to stay in the house until someone killed it for me. I am reading about the Joro Spider that is as big as the palm of your hand and has not been sighted here in Michigan yet. I understand it does not bite, but looks pretty scary looking.


    • This spider remains in the middle of its enormous web, moving only if something flies into it. Then it inspects and deals with its prey. It is actually rather fascinating to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a large spider (not as big as yours) in a web near the garage and I was also fascinated watching it; with me right there, it would catch, wrap and save for later all the prey it got in that sticky web.

        Liked by 1 person

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