The giant golden orb weaver

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-16

A giant golden orb weaver is seen in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. Photos by Isaac Cohen

The giant golden orb weaver

Probably one of the scariest yet most fascinating animals in Shenzhen is the giant golden orb weaver (Nephila pilipes), a large-size spider with remarkable traits.


A widespread mistake people make is labeling spiders as insects. It doesn’t take much effortto differentiate spiders (with four pairs of legs) from insects, which have three.The correct label for spiders is “arachnid.”


A giant golden orb weaver is seen in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. 

Female spidersare larger in size, growing up to 5 or 6 centimeters in the body, measuring an impressive 20centimeters with their legs spread. Males are really small, roughly 5mm in body size, displaying one of the most considerable disparities in animal sexual dimorphism.


The body of this fantastic spider is elongated, and it can show variations in color, from brown to gray or even reddish and purple. Its legs are black with yellow bands, and the last segment of the legs is longer than the rest. Both pedipalps (buccal structures) are bright red and yellow, and the spinnerets (web-making structures) are black.


A giant golden orb weaver is seen in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. 

The silk of the golden orb weavers contains a compound that shines yellow under the sunlight, hence their name, and the net is powerful enough to capture all sorts of insects, even small birds or bats, which they can include in their diet.


A giant golden orb weaver is seen in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. 

Although the giant golden orb weaver can inject toxins into its victims, it is not known for any harmful effect on humans. There are no reports of aggressive behavior or attacks on people. If you find one on your walk through the park, admire it and let it continue playing its role in maintaining a healthy and dynamic ecosystem in our city.