Orb weaver spiders belong to the family Araneidae. They are known for their unique webs, which consist of radial strands that look like the spokes of a wheel. These strands support a network of concentric circles that may be several feet wide. Orb weavers usually build their webs vertically.
Orb weavers live throughout the world. There are about 3,500 species of orb weavers worldwide and about 180 species in North America. The spiders come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The males, which are smaller than the females, do not usually build webs and spend most of their time searching for mates.
With eight eyes but poor eyesight, orb weavers depend on their webs to catch their prey. Vibrations in a spider's web alert her to the presence of prey caught in the sticky circular threads. When she feels the vibrations, she runs along the non-sticky radial strands to capture the insect, which she subdues with a bite. If she does not eat the insect immediately, she wraps it in silk for later consumption.
Orb weavers are beneficial to humans because of their role in controlling insect pests. They are not aggressive and usually flee when threatened. Their bites are not dangerous to people or pets.