Overview

Brief Summary

Barn Spiders (Araneus cavaticus) are large, grayish, heavy-bodied spiders. This is one of the Araneus species known as "angulate", a reference to the well-developed "shoulder humps". On the underside of the abdomen it has a broad black band running down the center, the forward half bordered by two curving yellow lines, with a pair of yellow spots near the center of this band. Barn Spiders are found in the eastern United States from New England and adjacent Canada southwest through West Virginia to Alabama and Texas, but are generally more common in the northern part of the range. They often often build their webs around structures such as barns, bridges, arbors, fences, and porches, but have also been found beneath overhanging cliffs.

Adults of both sexes are densely covered with spines and hair-like bristles. The legs of the male are very long and thin and densely covered with long, thin spines. Body length is around 13 to 22 mm for females and 10 to 19 mm for males.

Orb webs are taken down (consumed) at the end of each night and rebult the next night. Most of the web is effectively solubilized and recycled by the spider (Townley and Tillinghast 1988).

This species is famous in literature as the model for Charlotte in Charlotte's Web by the 20th century American author E.B. White.

(Comstock and Gertsch 1948; Kaston 1978;  Howell and Jenkins 2004)

  • Comstock, J.H. (revised and edited by W.J. Gertsch). 1948. The Spider Book, Comstock Publishing Company, Ithaca, New York.
  • Howell, W.M. and R.L. Jenkins. 2004. Spiders of the Eastern United States: a Photographic Guide. Pearson Education, Boston.
  • Kaston, B.J. 1978. How to Know the Spiders, 3rd edition. Wm. C. Brown Company, Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Townley, M.A. and E.K. Tillinghast. 1988. Orb Web Recycling in Araneus cavaticus (Araneae, Araneidae) with an Emphasis on the Adhesive Spiral Component, Gabamide. Journal of Arachnology 16(3): 303-319.
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Barn spider

For the spider species also known as "barn spiders", see Neoscona crucifera.

Araneus cavaticus, commonly known as the barn spider, is a common orb-weaver spider native to North America. They are around three quarters of an inch in length and are usually yellow and brown in color. They mostly construct their webs in wooden human structures, hence their common name. The species is notable for being the basis for the character Charlotte in the book Charlotte's Web by American writer E. B. White.

Description[edit]

Barn spiders are predominantly yellow and brown in coloration with striped legs. Their underside is typically black with white marks inside, although color ranges can be quite magnificent. They are about three quarters of an inch long with large round abdomens.[1]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

Barn spiders are nocturnal. Like many other species of orb weavers, they take their webs down during daytime and build another every evening, consuming the silk from the previous web to conserve their resources.[1] Their "orb" webs are constructed archetypically, with symmetrical spokes connected by a spiral inside. They hide during the day and at night will sit in the middle of the web and wait for an insect to land on the web.

These spiders are aggressive toward each other. They will attack each other if in close quarters, though many may inhabit the same structure or area at any given time. They are most commonly found in rafters and wooden structures in suburban and rural structures or areas, and on boats near lakes, thus getting their name, "barn spider".

When agitated (by a puff of air, for instance) these spiders sometimes bounce up and down in the center of their webs, possibly in an attempt to look larger and more threatening. This reaction could be due to its response to vibrations in the web when prey is trapped. The barn spider will shake or sway the web to instigate further reaction from the prey caught within the web or to confirm that it was debris or other environmental disturbances (fallen leaves, sticks, etc.). They are also able to glean information about the object/insect, through the feel of the web as it shakes. If the spider senses a likely meal has been caught they will move to it and immediately begin wrapping it with silk.[1]

Distribution[edit]

They are mostly found in North America in late summer and through autumn. Barn spiders are most common in the Northeastern United States and Canada.

In popular culture[edit]

This spider was made well known in the book Charlotte's Web by American writer E. B. White, with a particularly interesting point that the spider's full name is Charlotte A. Cavatica, a reference to the barn spider's scientific name, Araneus cavaticus. Also one of Charlotte's daughters, after asking what her mother's middle initial was, names herself Aranea.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c [1], SpiderRoom.info VA Barn Spider.
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