It’s not a banana, but it is big and yellow…it’s a banana spider! These gentle arachnids are fairly common in South Carolina during mid to late summer, especially in the Lowcountry. These spiders are also called golden silk orb weavers because their large webs – which can measure several feet across – often have bright yellow silk strands alongside more common whitish silk strands. Banana spiders capture prey in the sticky silk strands and fill a valuable ecological role.
Banana spiders get their common name because their abdomen (back section) is a bright yellow. Female banana spiders can be 3 inches or more across with their legs spread out, while males are rarely more than ½ to ¾ inches across. The black sections on their legs are fuzzy, like a bottle brush, and their cephalothorax (the front body part, where there are eyes and legs) is a whitish color. Males can often be found on the web with the females and will “strum” the web before approaching the female to mate. If she responds aggressively, he will back off and wait for another chance – usually when she’s preoccupied molting (shedding her skin) or feeding).
These spiders are big, and believe me it’s no fun to get a face full of web walking down a trail. But they’re gentle creatures that are just doing their part to contribute to South Carolina’s natural environment.