Saturday 12 September 2015

A Golden Orb Web's Peculiar Behavior

Golden orb web spiders (Nephila maculata) are my favorite. Not only because of their massive size, their striking colours play a role to warn us to stay away from their mighty web. Their attractiveness always tempt me to photograph them. It is never easy to take a perfect shot of a golden orb web especially when my camera ain't a DSLR. Nevertheless, my Canon Powershot would still able to take great shots.
Dorsal view
On one hot afternoon, we had our eyes fixed on this female which seems to be resting while rebuilding her web after a storm in the early morning. A moment not to be missed and having a camera with us, we began to use her as our wildlife model. I think we stood there for more than fifteen minutes and we kept a distance of about 1.5 meter away from her.

Suddenly she began to move into an odd position.

We watched her moving her abdomen downwards and we saw her underside. I have not seen a golden orb web did that before. I wondered what was she trying to do and with a blink of an eye, she lets one shot of clear liquid from the tip of her abdomen. The liquid was aimed at me. Luckily, I was far enough of not allowing the liquid to hit me and it dropped onto the ground. We couldn't trace the liquid on the ground and we were not quick enough to snap the spitting action. We were stunned. 

Why did she do that for? Were we too close for comfort that she felt threaten and began to spit venom? Or was she only peeing? We don't have a clue.

I have read about Scytodes species spitting venom at their prey but I have not come across a Nephila spitting some sort of liquid. Have anyone seen this act before? Please help to share if you do know. Thanks! 

Photos of Nephila maculata below on a different occasion. She was caught on camera with an insect.
Nephila maculata with an insect caught on her web
Insect got wrapped!
Underside of the Nephila maculata