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Orchard Orb Weaver

Leucauge venusta
Family: 
Tetragnathidae (long-jawed orb weavers) in the order Araneae (spiders)
Description: 

These colorful, delicate spiders make circular webs that are usually positioned horizontally or at an angle to the ground, and they typically hang in the middle of their webs. The carapace appears yellow-green, darker on the sides. The abdomen is somewhat elongated and can be variably colored with silver, greens, yellows, reds and some blues. The legs are slender and long.

Looking down upon their webs, one usually sees the undersides of these spiders, as they tend to rest with their "backs" facing the ground. Though they are small, their shiny emerald greens and orangish spots near their spinnerets are rather eye-catching.

Size: 
Length (not including legs): from about 1/8 to just over 1/4 inch (females); males are somewhat smaller.
Habitat and conservation: 
These delicate and beautifully colored spiders live in low bushes and damp woodlands. They usually build their small webs in low vegetation, such as lop seed, and sometimes in small trees. Although these spiders may be abundant in wooded areas with dense undergrowth, they are not easily noticed because of their habit of quickly dropping into the leaf litter when disturbed.
Foods: 
The low position of their web helps them to catch small flying insects, such as flies and leafhoppers.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide.
Life cycle: 
As a general rule, spiders in our area hatch from eggs in spring and spend the growing season eating, maturing, mating and laying eggs. Females are capable of creating webs; males are not. Females continue creating egg cases as long as the weather holds out. As temperatures cool in fall, their metabolism slows, and they generally die when it freezes. Egg cases overwinter, and spiderlings hatch in spring.
Human connections: 
Although many humans are "creeped out" by spiders, we are also often "plagued" by insects such as flies, mosquitoes and gnats. The many small spiders of the world act as natural, organic "exterminators."
Ecosystem connections: 
Spiders are little predators that help to control populations of the insects they capture. Being small themselves, they easily fall prey to larger predators such as birds, reptiles and mammals. Many animals eat their eggs. Hummingbirds steal webs from spiders in order to build their own nests.
Shortened URL
http://mdc.mo.gov/node/6458