Arachnids of North Carolina
Order:
Scientific Name: Common Name: Family (Alpha):
« »
View Araneidae Members: NC Records

Mecynogea lemniscata - Basilica orbweaver


Taxonomy
Order: ARANEAEInfraorder: AraneomorphaeFamily: Araneidae                                                                                 
Comments: The latin name, lemniscata, meaning "hanging ribbons", appears to be descriptive of the eggsacs. The common name comes from the shape of the snare, resembling the domed ceilings inside some cathredrals
Species Comment: Also called Basilica Spider. Formerly called Allepeira conferta.
Identification
Online Description/Photos: BugGuide, Google Images, iNaturalist, WikipediaTechnical Description: Spiders of North America - Bradley; Spiders of the Carolinas – Gaddy; Bugguide; https://www.hindawi.com/journals/psyche/1992/035716/abs/; https://www.jstor.org/stable/4220107?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00650327; http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00025841/00001
Comments: Abdomen is relatively long and shiny white with dark green, brown and yellow lines, and patches of red orange. Cephalathorax is brown with a black median stripe and margin. Legs are green. This species is larger and more boldly marked than Leucage species, and dome shaped web eliminates confusion.
Total Length: Small, female total body length 6.0-9.0 mm, male total body length 5.0 - 6.9 mm.Adult ID: identifiable by photo
Distribution in North Carolina
Comments: Common throughout North Carolina and the southeastern United States. Males mature in summer, female summer through Autumn.
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: Forest understory, brush, down branches
Observation Methods: Visual observation, sweep netting.
Abundance/Frequency: Common.
Silk / Web: Orb web built low in vegetation and branches, up to 1-2 meters off the ground. Web begins as an orb with raidal and spiral strands spaced so closely that is resembles fine mesh screen. The holes in the mesh are less than 1mm and almost square. This orb is held in a dome shape by fibers forming a tangle both above and below. The spider hangs upside down within the dome. Males also build a web close to the female and are much smaller. Female builds a vertical string of 5-10 rough edges gray spheroid egg sacs hanging above the web. Egg sacs are 3-4 mm in diameter and contain 8-30 eggs. Web is detached each evening and provide another layer of protection to egg sacs. Leucage webs are small horizontal orbs, Filmy Dome spider, Neriene radiata, does not have the pattern of radial and spiral silk. The horizontal, dome shape of their webs has caused some controversy as to what family this spider really belongs to, as webs like this are usually characteristic of spiders in the Linyphiidae family. Many orbweavers build the classic, vertical, spiraling webs that most picture when trying to imagine a spider web. However, morphology and behavior tend to place these spiders into the Araneidae family, and most researchers believe, nowadays, that the M. lemniscata web structure is simply a classic example of convergent evolution with the Linyphiidae family web structure.
Prey: Beetles, flies, wasps and plant bugs. Sixteen discrete behavioral acts were identified in the predatory behavior of M. lemniscata 1.) Pluck. Rapid, longitudinal displacement of web radii with tarsi of legs I and sometimes II (= "jerk" sensu Lubin, 1980), or jerky movement of entire body to shake web; usually a response to prey movement, often as spider orients toward prey. 2.) Bite. Inserting chelicerae while holding prey with legs I-III and grasping web with legs IV. Bites may be single and sustained or repeated, brief, and in multiple locations. 3.) Wrap. Of two types: ao) Immobilization Wrap. Extensive swathing of prey at capture site, with wide ribbons of silk while using legs I-III or II-III to hold prey. Leg b.) Postimmobilization Wrap. Less extensive, methodical wrapping at hub where spider rotates prey with legs I-III and applies spinnerets directly to prey (="prey-rotation wrapping" sensu Robinson and Olazarri, 1971). 4.) Cut Out. Pedipalps and legs I sever and pull web silk from prey, then chelicerae and legs I remove entangled prey from web. 5.) Carry. Spider carries prey toward hub, either attached to silk strand and carried underneath body with one or both legs IV or carried in jaws. 6.) Attach. Spider attaches silk to web, often while manipulating prey, with spinnerets, by means of a dabbing motion to secure prey to web surface. 7.) Manipulate. Spider applies several short bites to prey while using pedipalps, legs I-III, and chelicerae to maneuver prey into feeding position. 8). Feed. Spider begins to feed after it plucks or tenses web with legs I-IV. Typical posture involves spider at hub, with legs I-IV on web surface and chelicerae embedded in prey (= "cruciform attitude" sensu Robinson and Olazarri, 1971). 1992] Willey, Johnson & Adler 163 9.) Interrupt. Defined as any break in predatory behavior caused by natural (e.g., wind, leaves hitting web) or unnatural (observer) disturbances. 10.) Reject. Spider drops prey from web prior to feeding. 11.) Rest. On web with legs I-IV contacting web, generally on hub but sometimes at prey capture site or in retreat. Females with egg sacs may have legs IV in contact with sacs. Alternatively, legs I-III may contact prey while legs IV contact web. 12.) Groom. Legs and palps passed between chelicerae. 13.) Shake. Violent, large amplitude, movements of web surface produced by legs I-II, often in response to prey trapped in barrier web above dome. 14.) Palpate. Pedipalps used to touch prey. 15.) Retreat. Spider moves away from prey to any location on web (usually hub) or drops off web. l6.) Cut Through. Spider severs hub silk with chelicerae and moves to barrier region of web.
Predators: Found in mud dauber nests. Green Mantidfly, Zeugomantispa minuta, feed on eggs. Chalcid wasps in the genus Genus Tetrastichus, parasitize eggs. Egg suspension protects them from ants and terrestrial insect predators, but wasps, birds, aerial and climbing predators can still obtain.
Behavior: Individuals will occasionally aggregate on trees or bushes, in areas with high prey density and numerous web support structures. Some will even share support lines, though they keep their own, individual retreats. It is likely that they do this to increase prey capture efficiency. Eggs hatch in 16 days and spend the next 290 days in the cocoon until the next spring when they emerge.

Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks:
State Protection:
Comments:

Photo Gallery for Mecynogea lemniscata - Basilica orbweaver

Recorded by: Vin Stanton
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn, C. Bowers, H. Anderson, J. Brown
Cumberland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: E. Conway, NEW
Moore Co.
Comment: WEWO - on holly road trail
Recorded by: J. Thomson, B. Bockhahn
Orange Co.
Comment: OCMO - Near Fishing pond sign @ -79.116449, 36.061477
Recorded by: J. Thomson, B. Bockhahn
Orange Co.
Comment: OCMO - Near Fishing pond sign @ -79.116449, 36.061477
Recorded by: Donald B. ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: B. McRae
Macon Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: SBW
Camden Co.
Comment: DISW - North deck of visitor center.
Recorded by: j.wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - 1 off Cypress Point Trail; the rest on the metal parts of Millpond Bridge extention
Recorded by: j.wyche, n.dominick
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - near Millpond Rd. & Bridge
Recorded by: Jane Wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - in webs attached to Millpond Bridge railings
Recorded by: j.wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - attached to Millpond Bridge braces
Recorded by: j.wyche
Gates Co.
Comment: MEMI - attached to Millpond Bridge braces
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Camden Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Rockingham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn
Orange Co.
Comment: