Leucauge venusta (Orchard Orbweaver)

About Leucauge venusta

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Tetragnathidae
→ Genus: Leucauge
→ Species: Leucauge venusta

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Orchard Orbweaver

Other Common Names

Orchard Spider, Longjawed Orbweaver, Venusta Orchard Spider

Author

Author of species name: Charles Athanase Walckenaer. First year published: 1841, as Epeira venusta.

Pronunciation

loo-KAW-gee veh-NOO-stuh

Meaning

The genus name Leucauge is Greek for “with a bright gleam,” and it is actually the only spider name created by Charles Darwin himself (Cameron 2005). The specific epithet, venusta, is Latin for charming, elegant, or beautiful.

Identifying Traits of Leucauge venusta

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 4.5-8 mm; adult males range from 3.5-4 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Leucauge venusta

Eyes

Total of eight eyes. The median eyes are grouped together almost in a trapezoid shape, while the lateral eyes are some distance away. See eye arrangement diagram for clarification.

Legs

The legs are long in this species; first two pairs the longest, and the 3rd pair the shortest. All legs are covered in spines and hairs, but perhaps the most noticeable characteristic is the long brush of trichobothria (special sensory hairs) on the femurs of the 4th legs. These look very much like a pair of fake eyelashes, actually! In the female, the legs are typically green, sometimes with dark rings at the joints. In the adult male, the legs may be green, yellow, brown, or orange, often also with dark rings at the joints. Each tarsus (tip of leg) has 3 claws.

Body

In both genders, the carapace is yellowish-green with a thin, dark green or black stripe down the center and also along the sides. The abdomen is an elongated oval that is at least twice as long as it is wide; it is much smaller in adult males than it is in adult females. The front end of the abdomen is rounded and projects up and over the cephalothorax. Abdominal coloration is silvery-white with a dark line in the middle, from which four pairs of more-or-less distinct bars branch to the side. There are also shimmery green, yellow-gold, and orange markings on the sides. On the underside of the abdomen, there may be two bright orange-red or copper colored triangles (note that this character seems to be quite variable, with some specimens having them and some not; perhaps it has to do with age or geographic variation?).

Range of Leucauge venusta

Leucauge venusta can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

Important Range Notes

The range of this New World endemic extends from southeastern Canada, through the entire eastern USA, and all the way south into Brazil. Californian records are mostly from the coastal regions and there are enough to consider the species established in the state. We know of one record from northern Arizona, but that could be an accidental introduction; until we know for sure the species is established there, we have left Arizona off our range listing.

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

“Orchard Orbweavers” can be found in a variety of habitats, but they seem to prefer low bushes and lower portions of trees in relatively moist, wooded areas. Many of the other species in the family Tetragnathidae seem to prefer a moisture-rich environment, as well.

Web

This species builds an orb-shaped web that is typically horizontal (or slightly inclined), and has an irregular barrier of threads below it. Like other species in the family Tetragnathidae, the center of the web is open and the spider hangs with the end of its abdomen under that open hub. The web may be a foot in diameter with about 30 or more radii (“spokes”), a large number of closely set sticky spirals, and a rather wide free zone (a “free zone” is an area without spirals). The web is usually built before dawn and may be repaired or replaced throughout the day. In areas where there are lots of insects to eat, this species may build their webs in aggregations (many individuals sharing support lines). It also appears to be common that smaller, immature specimens build their webs lower to the ground, whereas the larger or adult specimens build a little higher up.

Season

Adults of this species are found in spring and the first half of summer, which is also when mating and egg laying takes place. The males are sexually mature a little sooner than the females, which is often the case with all species of spider.

Food

Prey is any flying or jumping insect that is intercepted by the orb web.

Lifecycle

The egg sac created by the female in late spring or early summer is constructed of loose, fluffy orange-white silk and can be made inside a rolled up leaf off to the side of the web, or attached to a twig. One sac was recorded as being 8-9 millimeters in diameter and containing several hundred reddish-orange eggs loosely stuck together, each one about 0.4 millimeters in diameter (Levi 1980). This is an annual species (lives roughly one year). The immature spiders overwinter and mature the following spring or summer.

Remarks

Pictures of Leucauge venusta (Orchard Orbweaver)

General

Female Spiders

Male Spiders

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Williamson County
  • State: Tennessee
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: North Carolina
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: NE
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: NE
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: NE
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Shelby Park, Nashville
  • State: Tennessee
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Webs
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Cross Plains, Dane County
  • State: Wisconsin
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Cross Plains, Dane County
  • State: Wisconsin
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Upper Marlboro
  • State: Maryland
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Upper Marlboro
  • State: Maryland
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Ventral, Webs
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Boxborough, Middlesex County
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Greenville County
  • State: South Carolina
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Nashville
  • State: Tennessee
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Webs
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Leucauge venusta
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: April 28, 2016

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