Arachnids of North Carolina
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View Araneidae Members: NC Records

Acanthepeira stellata - Star-bellied orb weaver


Taxonomy
Order: ARANEAEInfraorder: AraneomorphaeFamily: Araneidae                                                                                 
Species Comment: Latin for "starred" from stella- "star". Alternate spelling Starbellied Orbweaver. Though technically star-abdomened, the points are visible from below.
Identification
Online Description/Photos: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1994 Images, iNaturalist, WikipediaTechnical Description: Spiders of North America - Bradley; Spiders of the Carolinas – Gaddy; Kaston 1948. Bugguide
Comments: Abdomen shape with 10-12 points along the edge. Coloration typcially brownish gray, but can be greenish, orange or reddish. Usually a dark area in the middle portion of the rear part of the abdomen. White or pale bands can sometimes show on sides or front. The frontal spike hanging over the cephalothorax can have two white lines that form a "v" at the point or even a triangle. Rear spike has a darker "v" or chevron. Cephalothorax color varies like the abdomen, legs can be banded in either sex. Male has similar markings and coloration but with a smaller abdomen. Body is covered in hairlike setae. Lateral eyes are on a pointed tubercle. In retreat often folds legs in front to a point. It is exceedingly difficult to separate some Acanthepeira specimens from the southeastern United States and it appears that three species interbreed. A. cherokee - Females (8.5-10.5 mm) may differ from other species in this genus by having smaller/less distinct abdominal humps. Males (6.5-11 mm) have 4th coxa without tubercle. Habitat is moist bottomland woods. A. marion - Females (10-15.5 mm) easily recognized by rounded humps. Males (7-10.5 mm) have 4th coxa with tubercle. A. stellata - Females (7-15 mm) Larger than venusta, more rounded, darker, deeply colored abdomen. Of the 4 species this is the only one which has AMEs smaller than secondary eyes. Female scape can be variable, esp. those from FL. Males (5-8 mm) have 4th coxa with tubercle and retrolateral macrosetae of fourth femur about equal in size. A. venusta - Females (6-10 mm) Can be distinguished by smaller size, narrow abdomen & lighter less contrasting pattern. This is the only species that might have ventral white marks. It might have a white transverse mark or two white spots behind the genital groove. Males (5-7.5 mm) have 4th coxa without tubercle.
Total Length: Small to medium sized spider, Female total body length 7.0-15.1 mm, male total body length 5.1-8.1mm.Adult ID: identifiable by photo of specific features and/or supplementary info
Distribution in North Carolina
Comments: Found throughout North Carolina and the eastern United States. Eggs hatch in late summer, sub adults overwinter and mature in spring and early summer.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Adult phenology:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: old fields, grasslands, sand dune vegetation, meadows, forest under story, structures and occasionally in trees.
Observation Methods: Collected by sweep netting or visual surveys.
Abundance/Frequency: Frequent
Silk / Web: 6-10" orb web in vegetation up to four feet in height.
Prey: Preys on grasshopper nymphs and other medium sized insects including a rare occurrence of a green tree frog.
Predators: Starbellied Orbweavers are often found in the larval mud cells of mud daubers.
Behavior: Nocturnal but not strictly, builds a 6-10" orb web in vegetation up to four feet in height. Female spends the night in hub of web facing down. Easily disturbed it can drop from web to disappear in vegetation or to feign death. During the day it rests in a retreat. Egg sacs are a loose brown silk mass attached to a leaf.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
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Photo Gallery for Acanthepeira stellata - Star-bellied orb weaver

Recorded by: N. Williamson
Moore Co.
Comment: WEWO
Recorded by: J. Mickey
Surry Co.
Comment: PIMO - Along river trail/Horne Cr. Trl. @ -80.492524, 36.257916
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Cumberland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Onslow Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: R. Newman
Carteret Co.
Comment: FOMA - Female @ -76.685800, 34.699213
Recorded by: R. Newman
Carteret Co.
Comment: FOMA
Recorded by: R. Newman
Carteret Co.
Comment: FOMA
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Pender Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: T. DeSantis, SBW
Camden Co.
Comment: DISW - Swamp Boardwalk
Recorded by: Jane Wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - on hiking trail from visitor center to Millpond Rd.
Recorded by: Jane Wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - on hiking trail from visitor center to Millpond Rd.
Recorded by: j.wyche, n.dominick
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - Lassiter Trail b/t visitor center & picnic area
Recorded by: J. A. Anderson
Surry Co.
Comment: PIMO - @ -80.485239, 36.264933
Recorded by: Jim Petranka
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Pender Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall
Orange Co.
Comment: