Spooky season is as good an excuse as any to bring some of nature’s less celebrated critters to the foreground, and what is better suited to Halloween than Araneus marmoreus, the pumpkin spider! With more booty than you can shake a stick at, this bodacious arachnid is bringing the Halloween cheer with its vibrant orange abdomen that makes it resemble a jack o’ lantern on eight legs. Quite the costume inspiration, no?
This species also goes by the name marbled orbweaver and hails from the Araneidae family. It tends to be females that sport the more festive pumpkin attire as their swollen abdomens add to the gourd aesthetic, while males are usually half their size. Spooky though she may be, she is harmless, as pumpkins spiders – like other orbweavers – aren’t considered to be medically relevant in the book of spider boo-boos.
A. marmoreus actually comes in two colorways, with the nominate variety being pumpkin-orange while the pyramidatus variety has a paler abdomen with a dark spot near the rear. Both can be found across most of the Northern Hemisphere, though pyramidatus is mostly found within Europe.
These silk spinners get to work on egg cocoons in October so if you see any this Hallows’ Eve be sure to give them some space so as not to accidentally interrupt the delivery of next spring’s fresh glut of leggy pumpkins.