Nephila clavipes

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Nephila clavipes
Golden silk spider - Nephila clavipes.jpg
Female feeding (bottom) and male (top)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Family: Nephilidae
Genus: Nephila
Species: N. clavipes
Binomial name
Nephila clavipes
(Linnaeus, 1767)

Aranea clavipes
Aranea spinimobilis
Aranea longimana
Epeira clavipes
Epeira plumipes
Nephila wilderi
Nephila wistariana
Nephila concolor
Nephila thomensis

Nephila clavipes (Lat. clava = key; pedis = of or pertaining to a foot {genitive case of pēs}, i.e. "lock-opening legs") is the only species of golden orb-web spider occurring in North America (although it is also native to many parts of South America). Commonly known as the "banana spider" in the United States; the species are large in size compared to most of the genus, and are distinguished by the bright, vibrant colours of their abdomens. As usual case of sexual dimorphism in orb-weavers, females are three to four times larger than males.

N. clavipes is usually found in most of Central America and Antilles regions (ranging from Mexico to Panama), but can also be found as far as Argentina in the south and as far as lower Eastern Canada in the north during summer. Due to its migratory habits by the means of seed and fruit crates, the distribution of N. clavipes may range from local abundance to complete absence (or scarceness) over wide areas. Conversely, in some arboreal or swampy nooks, adults and their webs can be found in large concentrations, especially near the coast. Many migrations can occur in late August-early September, when the species enter mating season. Those found above 40° N latitude seldom survive the winter.

The web of a mature female can reach one meter in width, the yellow threads appearing as a rich gold in sunlight. Males come into the female's web for copulating. After mating, the female spins an egg sac on a tree, laying hundreds of eggs in one sac. The spider will only bite if pinched and the venom is usually relatively harmless and only leads to slight redness and localized pain.[1]

The silk of N. clavipes has recently been used to help in mammalian neuronal regeneration. In vitro experiments showed that a single thread of silk can lead a severed neuron through the body to the site from which it was severed. This single thread has a tensile strength of 4×109 N/m2, which exceeds that of steel by a factor of six. Best of all for these experiments, it is not recognized by the immune system, and so, is not rejected by the host body.[2]


  1. ^ Weems, Jr., H.V., and G.B. Edwards, Jr. 2001
  2. ^ Allmeling et al. 2006


  • Allmeling, C.; Jokuszies, A.; Reimers, K.; Kall, S. & Vogt, P.M. (2006): Use of spider silk fibres as an innovative material in a biocompatible artificial nerve conduit. J. Cell. Mol. Med. 10(3): 770-777. PDF - doi:10.2755/jcmm010.003.18
  • Borror, D. J. 1960. Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. Mayfield Publishing Company, 134 pp.
  • Cameron, H. D. 2005. Chapter 73 — An etymological dictionary of North American spider genus names, page 73 in D. Ubick, P. Paquin, P.E. Cushing, and V. Roth (eds.) Spiders of North America: an identification manual. American Arachnological Society, Keene (New Hampshire).
  • Weems, Jr., H.V., and G.B. Edwards, Jr. 2001 (2004 revision). golden silk spider. on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site

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