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8 superlative spiders

Oct. 2, 2013, 1:53 p.m.
Golden silk orb-weaver

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

9 of 10

Most industrious

Golden silk orb-weaver (Nephila clavipes)

What she lacks in particularly nightmarish looks or excessive hairiness, the golden silk orb-weaver makes up for in industrious domestic activities. (Still, you wouldn’t want to wake up to one sitting next to you on your pillow.) One of the oldest known surviving genus of spiders, Nephila are renowned for their large and intricate wheel-shaped orb webs and their ability to trap all sorts of delicious snacks in the semi-permanent silken structures that can span as much as 6 feet wide. The incredibly strong (the silk is stronger than steel) and sticky webs posses a distinct golden sheen and are robust enough to snare non-arthropods such as bats, small birds and even snakes. For some male golden orb-weavers, treating their mate to a relaxing back massage when getting busy can go a long way — because when a female isn't calm, she will often make a meal of the male by devouring him immediately or wrapping him up for a late-night snack.