Micrathena sagittata


Description

This spider belongs to the family of spiders that spin their webs in spirals - the orb weavers. The Arrowshaped Micrathena hangs in the center of its orb web and can be mistaken for a bit of wood, bark, or leaf.

The male spider is 1/4 inch long and the female is only slightly larger, up to 3/8 inch long. The brightly colored abdomen is elevated and covered with pairs of pointed spines (the males lack spines). It has an enlarged pair of spines toward the rear of the abdomen that give this spider its arrowhead shape.


Habitat

The Arrowshaped Micrathena is found in the Eastern United States and as far west as Nebraska. It is usually found hanging in its web in woodlands or in gardens. Sometimes it will weave a short zigzag band to strengthen its web above the central orb hole.


Food

This spider feeds on small flying insects that it catches in its web.


Defense

The spines on the abdomen of the Arrowshaped Micrathena serve as a kind of armor to protect it from predators such as birds, lizards, flying insects, or other animals.

Despite its armor, the Arrowshaped Micrathena often falls victim to the mud dauber wasp. This wasp will paralyze the spider by stinging it and then encasing the spider in one of the chambers of its mud nest.