The Nephila Inaurata Madagascariensis, also known as the Madagascar Orb Weaver, is a large spider of the Araneidae family of orb-weaving spiders. It can also be called the Red-Legged Golden Orb Weaver Spider.
When fully grown, the average female Madagascar orb-weaving spider can span a diameter as large as that of a saucer. Her web can span up to six feet!
This spider has a long, black body and red legs. Females of this species have bright yellow markings on their abdomen. Its jaws, called chelicerae, open and close in a side-to-side motion like a pair of scissors.
This creature has eight eyes that are clustered together and its legs have bands of spines running down them. The male usually only reaches 2.5 centimeters (one inch) while the female of the species can grow up to 10 centimeters (4 inches), leg span included.
The Madagascar Orb Weaver is most commonly found in Madagascar and Southern Africa near forests or woodlands. The spider hangs head-down in the center of its web, which it spins at night.
The Madagascar Orb Weaver is a spider that feeds primarily on insects like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and moths. Its web, which can be up to 100 centimeters across, traps these hapless creatures so the orb weaver can enjoy a tasty meal. The craftsmanship of their webs is impeccable–so much so that birds and bats occasionally get caught in them.
The Golden Cape
Did you know that in 2012, the V&A displayed a cape made from the silk of 1.2 million Golden Orb Spiders from Madagascar? To create these textiles, they collected spiders in the morning and placed them into specially conceived silking contraptions. At the end of each day, 24 spiders have their silk extracted by trained handlers before being returned to the wild.
Spider silk is exceptionally rare and precious, due to the large number of spiders needed to produce a small quantity of silk. It typically takes 23,000 spiders to yield just one ounce of spider silk. This Golden Orb spider silk was first displayed in 2009 by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and was recognized as the “world’s rarest textile”.
The Nephila Inaurata Madagascariensis is an interesting and unique spider that is definitely worth learning more about! They are one of the largest orb-weaving spiders in the world and their webs are incredible feats of engineering. If you ever have the chance to see one of these spiders up close, don’t miss it!