Ventral view of Nephila pilipes jalorensis / India Giant Wood Spider or golden silk orb-weaver spiders, Papi Hills, Andhra Pradesh.
Females are large and grow to a body size of 30-50mm, with males growing to 5–6 mm.
The name of the golden silk orb-weavers refers to the color of the spider silk, not the color of the spider itself. Yellow threads of their web shine like gold in sunlight. Maybe the silk's color serves a dual purpose
- sunlit webs ensnare bees that are attracted to the bright yellow strands,
- in shady spots the yellow blends in with background foliage to act as a camouflage
The spider is able to adjust pigment intensity relative to background light levels and color; the range of spectral reflectance is specifically adapted to insect vision. Xanthurenic acid, two quinones and an unknown fourth compound contribute to the yellow color.
Typically, the webs are made in open woods or edges of dense forest, usually attached to trees and low shrubs, although they may be in the tops of trees or between the wires of utility lines (Krakauer 1972). These complex webs have a fine-meshed sticky orb suspended in a non-sticky barrier web. The orb is replenished regularly as its stickiness declines with age but the main web . Prey consists of a wide variety of small to medium-sized flying insects, including flies, bees, wasps, and small moths and butterflies (Robinson and Mirick 1971).
In the American Museum of Natural History, a piece of cloth is on exhibit that has been woven from golden silk from over 1 million golden orb female spiders.
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