The Orchard Orbweaver, 07 May 2014

Leucauge venusta, the Orchard orbweaver;
Flagler county, Florida (07 May 2014).
Perhaps now Leucauge argyrobapta.

The Orchard orbweaver, Leucauge venusta, is a fairly nifty (and utterly harmless-to-humans) arachnid traditionally listed as ranging throughout much of North, Central, and South America. In Florida, they are most certainly a small, common spider — quite abundant in yards and parks alike, often tucked upon their tiny, fragile webs strung within bundles of foliage and shrubbery.

Interestingly, while writing this post I caught wind from bugguide.net that the Florida-to Brazil orchard orbweavers appear to be, in fact, a distinct species separate from (yet closely related to) L. venusta. The new species is designated Leucauge argyrobapta. For the time being, I’ll classify this with the traditional Leucauge venusta designation, but as the taxonomic sands continue to change, I may update the classification and sorting of this spider in Florida accordingly.

Source to Consider: Ballesteros, J. A. & Hormiga, G. (2018). Species delimitation of the North American orchard-spider Leucauge venusta (Walckenaer, 1841) (Araneae, Tetragnathidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 121: 183-197.

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