Western Spotted Orbweaver
Although the spider shown above is very common in our area, it is not that often seen. The western spotted orbweaver (Neoscona oaxacensis) is, like many other spiders that make large and elegant webs, nocturnal. A spider sitting in the middle of a web is so obvious a target to birds that not many species will do so during the day. A great number of orbweavers build their webs only at night and then remove them the next morning. They usually eat the mass of silk, as a way of recycling the proteins in it. During the day, the spider hides in a retreat near one of the silk anchors of its web. Often, this retreat is under leaves or in the crook of a branch.
There are other species in the genus Neoscona that are also common here in central Texas. They are remarkably variable in coloration, and this one is no exception. The basic colors might range from mostly black to mostly yellow or white. Distinguishing characteristics of the western spotted orbweaver are the egg-shape and lack of spiny hairs on the abdomen, as well as the beautiful and intricate filigreed patterns. This is a medium-sized spider; the abdomen is usually about 1/2 inch in length. Females are slightly bigger than males, and their abdomens are usually more rounded.