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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Need Spider Identification (TX)


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QUESTION: This little spider was being dragged by what looked like a spider wasp. I imagine the spider wasp paralyzed it. I shooed the wasp away and took a few pics of the spider. Very beautiful and unique color and symbol on it's back.

Size: 1/3" ish
Location:  SW Austin, TX country

ANSWER: Dear Michelle - A very nice photo. It's an orb weaver in the genus Araneus; it could be an unusual color variant of one of at least three species, listed in the order of my perceived likelihood:
Araneus nordmanni, A. bicentenarius, or A. marmoreus.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: An orb weaver! Never would have guessed that. Thank you, Saugy. After looking through the 3 Araneus varieties that you suggested above, I came across an Araneus Eustala anastera. The color seems to be a perfect match. Would you agree?

Dear Michelle - Good work! Your spider fit the gestalt of a typical Araneus so well that I didn't even think of looking outside of that genus, and also had not realized that some species had been moved from Araneus to other genera. Thanks for letting me know - that's what i like about this site; I'm always learning from questioners!

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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