Female golden orb-web spider Nephila clavipes, with much smaller male in top left. Copyright Victor Patel.

Belongs within: Araneoidea.

The Nephilidae are a pantropical family of sometimes very large orb-weaving spiders. They construct orb webs with a sticky spiral, or modification thereof, that retain a non-sticky spiral in the finished web (Jocqué & Dippenaar-Schoeman 2007). Members of the genus Nephila include the largest of all orb-weavers and are commonly known as 'golden orb weavers' in reference to the presence of bright yellow silk in their webs (Harvey et al. 2007).

Characters (from Jocqué & Dippenaar-Schoeman 2007): Medium to very large; eight eyes present in two rows, lateral eyes widely separated from median eyes in Nephila, less so in other genera; chelicerae with striated boss and denticulate furrow; labium rebordered; legs with three tarsal claws, usually with numerous spines and sustentaculum on tarsus IV; abdomen may be somewhat elongate; ecribellate; male palp with mesal cymbium, with complex long embolic division in which function conductor envelops embolus, without median apophysis and radix; entelegyne.

    |  i. s.: Deliochus Simon 1894 K02
    |--Clitaetra Simon 1889 [Clitaetreae, Clitaetrinae] JD-S07
    |    `--C. episinoides JD-S07
    `--Nephilinae [Nephileae] JD-S07
         |--+--Herennia Thorell 1877 HAA07, JD-S07 [Herennieae]
         |  |    |--H. etruscilla Kuntner 2005 GA11
         |  |    `--H. ornatissima (Doleschall 1859) K92, D59 (see below for synonymy)
         |  `--Nephilengys Koch 1872 HAA07, JD-S07
         |       |--*N. malabarensis (Koch 1871) SC97 [=Epeira malabarensis T94]
         |       |--N. borbonica (Vinson 1863) GA11
         |       |--N. cruentata (Fabricius 1775) SC97
         |       |--N. dodo Kuntner & Agnarsson 2011 GA11
         |       `--N. livida (Vinson 1863) GA11
         `--Nephila Leach 1815 (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. pilipes (Fabricius 1793) HAA07 (see below for synonymy)
              |--N. angustata Stoliczka 1869 S69
              |--N. annulata Thorell 1859 [=N. (Lionephila) senegalensis annulata] HAA07
              |--N. antipodiana (Walckenaer 1842) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. ardentipes Butler 1876 GA11
              |--N. bragantina Brito Capello 1867 [=N. (Lionephila) senegalensis bragantina] HAA07
              |--N. cicatrosa (Stoliczka 1869) [=Epeira (Nephila) cicatrosa] S69
              |--N. clavata Koch 1878 [=N. (Trichonephila) clavata] HAA07
              |--N. clavatoides HAA07
              |--N. clavipes (Linnaeus 1767) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. comorana HAA07
              |--N. constricta Karsch 1879 [=N. (*Poecilonephila) constricta] HAA07
              |--N. edulis (Labillardière 1799) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. fasciata (Fabr. 1793) [=Aranea fasciata] T94
              |--N. fenestrata Thorell 1859 [=N. (Chondronephila) fenestrata, N. (*Dasynephila) fenestrata] HAA07
              |--N. inaurata (Walckenaer 1842) [=Epeira inaurata, N. (Zeugonephila) inaurata] HAA07
              |    |--N. i. inaurata HAA07
              |    `--N. i. madagascariensis (Vinson 1863) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. keyserlingii Blackwall 1865 [=N. (Lionephila) senegalensis keyserlingii] HAA07
              |--N. lucasi Sim. 1887 K92
              |--N. plumipes (Latreille 1804) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. relicina Koch & Keyserling 1887 KK90
              |--N. robusta HAA07
              |--N. senegalensis (Walckenaer 1842) [=Epeira senegalensis, N. (Lionephila) senegalensis] HAA07
              |--N. sexpunctata HAA07
              |--N. submaculata Strand 1906 J98
              |--N. sumptuosa Gerstäcker 1873 [=N. (Lionephila) sumptuosa] HAA07
              |--N. tetragnathoides (Walckenaer 1842) (see below for synonymy) HAA07
              |--N. turneri Blackwall 1833 [=N. (Chondronephila) turneri] HAA07
              `--N. vitiana (Walckenaer 1847) (see below for synonymy) HAA07

Herennia ornatissima (Doleschall 1859) K92, D59 [=Epeira ornatissima K92; incl. E. multipuncta D59, Herennia multipuncta K92]

Nephila Leach 1815 [incl. Chondronephila Dahl 1911, Cyphonephila Dahl 1911, Dasynephila Dahl 1912, Lionephila Dahl 1911, Nothonephila Archer 1958, Poecilonephila Dahl 1911, Trichonephila Dahl 1911, Zeugonephila Dahl 1911] HAA07

Nephila antipodiana (Walckenaer 1842) [=Epeira antipodiana, N. (Cyphonephila) antipodiana; incl. N. ambigua Kulczyński 1911, N. baeri Simon 1877, N. celebesiana Strand 1915, N. holmerae Thorell 1881, Epeira (Nephila) imperialis Doleschall 1857 non E. imperialis Walckenaer 1805, N. (Cyphonephila) imperialis, N. nigritarsis insulicola Pocock 1900, N. laurinae Thorell 1881, N. imperalis var. novaemecklenburgiae Strand 1911, N. ornata Blackwall 1864 non Adams 1847, N. sarasinorum Merian 1911] HAA07

Nephila clavipes (Linnaeus 1767) [=Aranea clavipes, N. (Trichonephila) clavipes; incl. Aranea cornuta Pallas 1772 non Araneus cornutus Clerck 1757, N. (*Nothonephila) cornuta, N. thomensis] HAA07

Nephila edulis (Labillardière 1799) [=Aranea edulis, N. (Lionephila) edulis; incl. N. adelaidensis Hogg 1910, Meta aerea Hogg 1896, N. eremiana Hogg 1896, N. meridionalis hermitis Hogg 1914, N. imperatrix Koch 1872, N. meridionalis Hogg 1910, N. picta Rainbow 1896] HAA07

Nephila inaurata madagascariensis (Vinson 1863) [=Epeira madagascariensis, N. (Zeugonephila) madagascariensis] HAA07

Nephila pilipes (Fabricius 1793) HAA07 [=Aranea pilipes HAA07, N. pictipes (l. c.) HAA07; incl. N. maculata var. annulipes Thorell 1881 HAA07, N. aurosa Koch 1872 HAA07, Epeira caliginosa Walckenaer 1842 HAA07, E. chrysogaster Walckenaer 1805 HAA07, E. doreyana Walckenaer 1842 HAA07, Nephila maculata var. flavornata Merian 1911 HAA07, N. fuscipes Koch 1839 HAA07, E. (Nephila) harpyia Doleschall 1859 HAA07, E. (N.) hasseltii Doleschall 1859 HAA07, Nephila maculata jalorensis Simon 1901 HAA07, N. kuhlii HAA07, N. maculata var. lauterbachi Dahl 1912 HAA07, Aranea longipes Fabricius 1781 non Fuesslin 1775 HAA07, A. maculata Fabricius 1793 non Olivier 1789 HAA07, Epeira maculata R13, *Nephila maculata HAA07, N. maculata var. novaeguineae Strand 1906 J98, N. ornata Adams 1847 HAA07, Meta ornata Koch 1872 HAA07, N. pecuniosa Koch 1872 HAA07, Epeira (Nephila) penicillum Docleschall 1857 HAA07, N. pictithorax Kulczyński 1911 HAA07, N. maculata piscatorum de Vis 1911 HAA07, N. procera Koch 1872 HAA07, Epeira sebae Walckenaer 1805 HAA07, N. sulphurosa Koch 1872 HAA07, N. tenuipes Koch 1872 HAA07, Epeira (Nephila) walckenaeri Doleschall 1857 HAA07]

Nephila plumipes (Latreille 1804) [=Aranea plumipes, N. (Cyphonephila) plumipes; incl. N. cunninghamii MacLeay 1827, N. edwardsii Rainbow 1895, N. flagellans Koch 1872, N. fletcheri Rainbow 1895, N. insularis Keyserling 1887, N. labillardierii Thorell 1875, N. nigritarsis Koch 1872, N. ornata Rainbow 1896 nec Adams 1847 nec Blackwall 1864, N. venosa Koch 1867, N. ventricosa Rainbow 1895, N. victorialis Koch 1872] HAA07

Nephila tetragnathoides (Walckenaer 1842) [=Epeira tetragnatoides, N. (Cyphonephila) tetragnathoides; incl. E. durvilla Walckenaer 1842, N. prolixa Koch 1872] HAA07

Nephila vitiana (Walckenaer 1847) [=Epeira vitiana; incl. N. piepersii Thorell 1877, N. wallacei Thorell 1877, N. (Cyphonephila) wallacei] HAA07

*Type species of generic name indicated


[D59] Doleschall, C. L. 1859. Tweede Bijdrage tot de kennis der Arachniden van den Indischen Archipel. Verhandelingen der Natuurkundige Vereeniging in Nederlandsch Indie [Acta Societatis Scientiarum Indo-Neêrlandicae] 5 (5): 1–60, pls 1–18.

[GA11] Gregorič, M., I. Agnarsson, T. A. Blackledge & M. Kuntner. 2011. Darwin's bark spider: giant prey in giant orb webs (Caerostris darwini, Araneae: Araneidae)? Journal of Arachnology 39 (2): 287–295.

[HAA07] Harvey, M. S., A. D. Austin & M. Adams. 2007. The systematics and biology of the spider genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in the Australasian region. Invertebrate Systematics 21: 407–451.

[J98] Jäger, P. 1998. Das Typenmaterial der Spinnentiere (Arachnida: Acari, Amblypygi, Araneae, Opiliones, Pseudoscorpiones, Scorpiones, Uropygi) aus dem Museum Wiesbaden. Jahrbuecher des Nassauischen Vereins fuer Naturkunde 119: 81–91.

[JD-S07] Jocqué, R., & A. S. Dippenaar-Schoeman. 2007. Spider Families of the World. Royal Museum for Central Africa: Tervuren (Belgium).

[K92] Karsch, F. 1892. Arachniden von Ceylon und von Minikoy gesammelt von den Herren Doctoren P. und F. Sarasin. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 36 (2): 267–310.

[KK90] Koch, L., & E. Keyserling. 1884–1890. Die Arachniden Australiens nach der Natur beschrieben und abgebildet vol. 2. Bauer & Raspe: Nürnberg.

[K02] Kuntner, M. 2002. The placement of Perilla (Araneae, Araneidae) with comments on araneid phylogeny. Journal of Arachnology 30 (2): 281–287.

[R13] Rainbow, W. J. 1913. Arachnida from the Solomon Islands. Records of the Australian Museum 10 (1): 1–16.

[SC97] Scharff, N., & J. A. Coddington. 1997. A phylogenetic analysis of the orb-weaving spider family Araneidae (Arachnida, Araneae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 120: 355–434.

[S69] Stoliczka, F. 1869. Contribution to the knowledge of Indian Arachnoidea. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 38 pt 2 (4): 201–251, pls 18–20.

[T94] Thorell, T. 1894. Förteckning öfver Arachnider från Java och närgränsande öar, insamlade af docenten D:r Carl Aurivillius; jemte beskrifingar å några sydasiatiska och sydamerikanska Spindlar. Bihang till K. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akademiens Handlingar 20 pt 4 (4): 1–63.

Last updated: 22 September 2019.

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