- English: Tent-Web Spider
- Spanish: Araña orbitela de las chumberas
- Scientific: Cyrtophora citricola
- French: l’Épeire de l’Opuntia
- German: Opuntienspinne
- Portuguese: Tecedeira-colonial
- Distribution: Almost worldwide in warm and temperate zones covering Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and US and South America.
Remember that the Tent-Web Spider – Cyrtophora citricola – Araña orbitela de las chumberas can change its color to blend in with the environment but normally, the abdomen (opisthosoma) is brown to black in colour with varied white markings and often three pairs of spots. There are three pairs of tubercles, the last being more pronounced and creating a bifurcation at the rear of the abdomen.
The spider almost always faces downwards on the web and can sometimes be difficult to distinguish as they often resemble a piece of a leaf.
Females are between 10-12 mm (½ inch), males are much smaller at about 3 mm (8th inch).
In Spain it was once very common to see their webs in prickly pears (Opuntia), where they often grouped together, ranging from a few individuals to colonial webs of several meters in length with many hundreds of spiders. However, in recent years and with the uncontrolled spread of the Cochineal – Dactylopius coccus – Cochinilla del Carmin the prickly pear habitat for this spider has all but been lost across the Iberian Peninsular.
Now, instead, it is quite common to see this spider on agaves, aloes and also along canals, water courses and bridges.
Each web is 30 to 50 cm in diameter (1foot-1ft 8 inches), suspended horizontally from numerous long silk threads that are attached to the surrounding plants. Once insects fly into this dense and irregular (non-sticky) network they fall to the circular mesh where the spider awaits. For the construction of the entire web, the spider requires at least four nights.
Adult specimens can be observed in summer and autumn.
During the summer they mature and mating occurs. After fertilization, the female can create up to 10 egg sacks, aligned vertically, which she monitors constantly. The eggs hatch during late summer to autumn and the spiderlings may stay with the growing colony.
There is a very in depth article to be found on wikipedia about the Tent-Web Spider – Cyrtophora citricola – Araña orbitela de las chumberas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrtophora_citricola
Bridge spider – Larinioides sclopetarius – Araña orbitela jacobea común
At first glance appearing quite similar, the main difference between Cyrtophora citricola and Larinioides sclopetarius is behavioural. The latter is not a social spider and is mostly found seperated from others of its species. However, they do sometime build webs next to each other and in this case (unlike the former) the females exhibit territorial defense of their webs from intruders, including other members of the same species.
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