Does your yard look like it is already decorated for Halloween because of all the large spider webs covered with huge spiders? In the fall we see an increase in in these large webs.

One of the more colorful ones is the Golden Silk Spider (Golden Silk Orb Weaver), Nephila clavipes: This is a large orb weaver (web builder) with webs that are several feet wide.

They are often called "banana spiders" by people in south Mississippi. They know them by this name. Mature females range from 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and have a leg span of 3 to 4 inches. The abdomen is orange or yellow with white markings and is elongate and tube-shaped; the front part of their body is silver. The legs are yellow, banded with black, and have distinctive tufts of black hairs concentrated at the joints.

Golden silk spiders suspend their webs between trees and shrubs in open woods and wooded landscapes. They can be quite numerous in the southern part of the state, and it is not uncommon to see several spiders nesting near one another, presumably sisters that developed from the same egg mass. I have several webs suspended between trees and shrubs lining my driveway.

Like regular garden spiders, they can inflict a painful bite if mishandled, but they are not aggressive and the bite is usually not serious. Because their webs can be so numerous, these spiders can be a nuisance to hikers, bikers, and people who work in the yard or play outside. It is shocking to feel one of these large spiders crawling up the back of your neck after you have unknowingly walked through its web.

This spider produces one of the strongest silks, and hence one of the strongest fibers, known to man. It gets its name from the golden color that the silk has in certain lighting. Golden silk spiders occur throughout the Southeast and in Central and South America. They are quite common in the southern third of the state, but it is unusual to encounter them much north of I-20. In Neshoba County, just a little north of I-20, you can still encounter these large webs in your yard.

Leave them alone and these spiders will not bother you. They will silently and colorfully catch insects for you. Not to mention they will provide free Halloween decorations.

This information was provided courtesy of Dr. Wayne Porter, Extension Area Horticulture Specialist. A special thanks to him for this information.

UPCOMING EVENTS

• Oct. 18-19 - 4-H Shooting Sports Certification Training, Marion County.

• Oct. 23 - Horse Judging Interest Meeting, 3:45 p.m., Neshoba Coliseum.

• Oct. 24 - Fall Fun Day for Special Needs Children in our Area, 9 a.m. - Noon, Neshoba Coliseum.

Until next week, get into 4-H!