That is One Big, Big, Spider
Arachnophobics beware. You have seen garden spiders, black widows, and wolf spiders, yet nothing can prepare you for the massive size of this eight-legged arachnid. If spiders make you run for a rolled up newspaper or a shoe, the sheer size of this arachnid might make you consider purchasing a firearm.
The golden silk spider is big. Its web can be up to three and half feet in diameter. That is longer than your leg. If you happen to come across its web, you will see the spider sitting smack dab in the center. A female spider with her legs spread will nearly be the size of your hand. That is big enough to eat a bird. In fact, there have been documented cases where large golden silk spiders have eaten birds. Have you loaded that shotgun yet?
Are you wondering if you should be worried?
The largest golden silk spiders are found in Australia. You can release that breath you were holding and sigh with relief. You don’t have to worry about seeing a massive web blocking your front door. Before you get comfortable, America has a smaller version of the same spider. Smaller meaning it is only the size of half your hand. They range from Florida to North Carolina. You will find them in orange groves and treetop zones because they love the distance between tree’s rows to build their immense webs.
You can put the tennis racket down. Golden silk spiders might be huge, but they are not poisonous to people. Their bite has been compared to being less painful than a bee sting. Besides, you have to make one really angry if you want to get bit. If you give the golden silk spider a death squeeze, its fangs will find you. The bite site will stay red for a few hours and then begin to fade. Most people will never encounter one of these big spiders. When was the last time you went wandering through an orange grove?
Because of their size, golden silk spiders have to deal with the threat of overheating. You will notice they have a silvery colored abdomen. This adaptation allows them to reflect sunlight. They will also orient their long banana shaped body toward the sun, decreasing the area of heat absorption to a minimum. Scientists have speculated that the spider can also push fluids out onto its body, kind of like the way you sweat. This forced evaporative cooling keeps the big guy at the right temperature. Golden silk spiders get their name from the color of their webbing. The dense webs take on a deep golden color. Rumpelstiltskin would be jealous to know that a spider is better at spinning gold than he spins.
They might be big enough to make you shiver; yet, golden silk spiders are harmless. The only time you would have to be concerned is if you were an outdoor parakeet farmer in Australia. A few of your birds might go missing.