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The genus name Gasteracantha derives from the Greek words γαστήρ (gaster, "belly") and ἄκανθα (acantha, "thorn"), while the specific epithet cancriformis derives from the Latin words cancer ("crab") and forma ("shape, form, appearance").
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Females are 5–9 millimetres (0.20–0.35 in) long and 10–13 mm (0.39–0.51 in) wide. The six abdominal spine-like projections on the abdomen are characteristic. The carapace, legs and underside are black with white spots under the abdomen. Variations occur in the colour of the upperside of the abdomen: a white or yellow colour with both featuring black spots. A white upperside can have either red or black spines while a yellow upperside can only have black ones. Like with many other spiders, males are much smaller (2 to 3 mm long) and longer than wide. They are similar to the females in colour but have a gray abdomen with white spots and the spines are reduced to four or five stubby projections.
This species of spider does not live very long. In fact, the lifespan lasts only until reproduction, which usually takes place in the spring following the winter when they hatched. Females die after producing an egg mass, and males die six days after a complete cycle of sperm induction to the female.
Gasteracantha cancriformis is native to North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. It has been introduced elsewhere, including Hawaii.
Ventral view, with spinneret visible
In Miami Lakes
In Novo Hamburgo (southern Brazilian population), with focus on the web
Mating in the Summer
- "Taxon details Gasteracantha cancriformis (Linnaeus, 1758)", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2016-04-28
- Peters, A. (2002). "Gasteracantha cancriformis". animaldiversity.org. Animal Diversity Web.
- Eberhard, William G. (2006): Stabilimenta of Philoponella vicina (Araneae: Uloboridae) and Gasteracantha cancriformis (Araneae: Araneidae): Evidence Against a Prey Attractant Function. Biotropica 39(2): 216-220. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00254.x
Media related to Gasteracantha cancriformis at Wikimedia Commons