Neoscona oaxacensis
Immature female Neoscona oaxacensismature female Neoscona oaxacensis

above left - immature female ----------   above right - mature female, body 3/4" to 1" long

below left - female repairing web -----  bottom - adult male in web, much smaller than female
female Neoscona oaxacensis repairing her web

Neoscona oaxacensis is the most common orb weaver you will find in our area. The web can measure 3-5 feet wide and almost as high. They seem to prefer building their webs in places where a human is likely to walk through it. Maybe that's just my imagination, but I hate walking through them!

The spider does not always remain in the center of the web but hides under a leaf at the edge of the web. You can convince it to reveal its hiding place by very gently touching the web; not too hard or she'll think you are a predator and not the prey. The spider senses movement when an insect inadvertently becomes trapped in the web and struggles to free itself, it attacks very quickly and injects venom to immobilize the victim. It then wraps the prey in web released from spinnerets located at the rear of the spider. The spider saves it for later or may consume it immediately.

It is interesting to observe these specimens over a few weeks. I observed this spider releasing 25 feet of web into the breeze, she rolled it back up and ate it! Web repair is a daily ritual and you can generate a little extra activity by damaging a bit. (Not too much or she'll find another place.) 

This female spider was photographed at night using a flashlight to illuminate her. This eliminated any distracting background. Black velvet can be used in daylight for the same purpose if you can get around to the backside of the web and have the assistance of a very good friend that shares your lunacy. Day or night, it is important to have a flashlight and a third hand to hold it.

smaller male Neoscona oaxacensis sneaking up to female in center of webmale Neoscona oaxacensis. >1/2" long

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