Micrathena sagittata (Arrowshaped Micrathena)

About Micrathena sagittata

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Araneidae
→ Genus: Micrathena
→ Species: Micrathena sagittata

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Arrowshaped Micrathena

Other Common Names

Arrow Spider, Orbweaver, Arrowhead Orbweaver

Author

Author of species name: Charles Athanase Walckenaer. First year published: 1841, as Plectana sagittata.

Pronunciation

my-kruh-THEE-nuh saa-juh-TAY-tuh

Meaning

Micrathena is after the Greek adjective “small” and the name of the goddess Athena, who wore armor and was also a weaver, among other things (Cameron 2005); sagittata is Latin for “arrowed.”

Identifying Traits of Micrathena sagittata

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 7-10 mm; adult males range from 4-6 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Micrathena sagittata

Eyes

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

Legs

Legs are a solid, reddish brown color and relatively thin. They are quite shiny and without any spines visible to the naked eye. The very tip of each leg has 3 claws.

Body

This spider is named for the arrow-shaped abdomen of mature females which is widest at the rear, with a pair of very large processes (“spikes”) jutting obliquely from the hindmost part of the abdomen. Two additional smaller sets of “spikes” are on the front and middle of the female’s abdomen. The abdomen of the male is widest at the rear, but lacking spines. Carapace of the female is dark reddish brown edged in pale yellow or ivory; abdomen is mostly bright yellow above, but the “spikes” are reddish brown (black at the tips). The underside is mottled black and yellow. The male is mostly black with scattered white markings on the abdomen.

Range of Micrathena sagittata

Micrathena sagittata 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 species also continues down into Central America, as far south as Panama.

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

This is a spider of mostly open deciduous woodlands and forest edges. Can be found among shrubs and other foliage.

Web

Orb web is usually built in low bushes, rarely more than two feet from the ground. It is typically about one foot in diameter. The web has a very “tight” appearance with many radii (“spokes”), and the spiral very tightly wound. Hub of web is open, which lets the spider crawl back and forth to access both sides of the web. A decoration of a short, zigzag band of silk called a stabilimentum may be positioned just above the center of the web. Spider occupies hub (center) of web, hanging head down. The web may be vertical or slightly inclined. The spider will drop from the web into leaf litter if disturbed.

Season

Mature individuals may be found from mid-summer through late autumn, perishing with the first hard frost.

Food

Prey is flying and jumping insects that are intercepted by the vertical web. At least one researcher (Fitch 1963) claims the principal prey are leafhoppers (insects in the family Cicadellidae), though more diverse prey is recorded in non-agricultural habitats (Uetz & Biere 1980). Micrathena bite their prey first, then wrap it in silk (Levi 1985). This is opposite of most other types of orbweaver (typically prey is wrapped in silk first, then envenomated). Note: Bradley (2013) reports that this species does not wrap its prey at all, so that is contradictory to what Levi (1985) reports.

Lifecycle

Egg sac is a fluffy, white sac, about 12 millimeters in diameter, containing roughly 90 eggs (Kaston 1948). It is typically attached to vegetation near the web. Levi (1985) notes that adult males taken to the laboratory died soon after collecting, which could indicate that their adult life span is probably fairly short. The entire life span from emergence from the egg to death is likely not more than one year. This is a diurnal species (daytime active).

Pictures of Micrathena sagittata (Arrowshaped Micrathena)

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.
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
  • State: Texas
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Kentucky
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Kentucky
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • State: Kentucky
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: New Jersey
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • State: New Jersey
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Paulding County
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Kentucky
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Greenwood County
  • State: South Carolina
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • City/Region: Gadsden County
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Pinellas County
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Pinellas County
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Gravid, Lateral
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Webs
  • City/Region: East Swanton
  • State: Ohio
  • Country: United States
  • Micrathena sagittata
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral, Webs
  • City/Region: Mullica Township
  • State: New Jersey
  • 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: January 21, 2014

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