Spiders that are green and orange in color are quite rare. Most spiders tend to be more drably colored, with browns, blacks, grays and other muted tones that help them blend into their environments for hunting and avoiding predators. However, some species exhibit brilliant flashes of color, often for the purpose of signaling toxicity to potential predators.
The most common type of spider to display vibrant green and orange coloring is the orb-weaver spider. Orb-weaver spiders belong to the family Araneidae and weave circular webs with a distinctive spiraling “orb” pattern. There are over 3,000 species of orb-weaver spiders, and many of them have abdominal markings or other body parts colored in greens, yellows, oranges, and whites.
Some other possibilities for green and orange spiders include crab spiders, jumping spiders, lynx spiders, and some tarantulas. The specific species will depend on the location, as spider diversity varies greatly around the world. Identifying the spider to species level often requires close examination under a microscope.
Orb-weaver spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica and inhabit a wide range of forest, grassland, desert, and coastal ecosystems. Some of the more colorful and strikingly patterned orb-weavers include:
- Garden spider (Araneus diadematus) – Common in temperate areas worldwide, these spiders have an orange, white and black pattern on the abdomen.
- Black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) – Widespread in North America, this spider has a black body with yellow and orange markings.
- Banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata) – Found in warmer regions, this spider is brown or orange with bright white bands around the abdomen.
- Spiny orb-weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) – Native to warmer areas, this spider has bright orange or red spiky markings on a black abdomen.
- Jewel spider (Austracantha minax) – An Australian orb-weaver with vibrant green chelicerae (mouth appendages).
The brightly colored patterns and markings seen in many orb-weaver species serve an important defensive purpose. They use what is known as “warning coloration” or aposematic coloration to signal toxicity or danger to potential predators like birds, lizards and small mammals.
The contrasting bands, spots and stripes are highly visible against the spider’s natural habitat, allowing predators to quickly identify them as an animal that should be avoided. This form of mimicry helps reduce attacks, allowing the spiders to survive unharmed.
Some orb-weavers also add decorations to their webs that enhance the visual warning. For example, the spiny orb-weaver weaves in bits of debris, dead insect parts, and egg sacks to create a “web decoration” that draws attention to the spider and makes it appear larger and more intimidating.
While many orb-weavers rely on bright warning displays, others use their colors to camouflage themselves within flowers and vegetation. For instance, crab spiders in the Thomisidae family often have yellow, white, pink or purple coloration that matches the blossoms where they hunt.
Jumping spiders, meanwhile, have been found to change their colors over time to adapt to their surroundings. This helps them remain unseen by prey as they stalk and pounce. The ability to camouflage likely co-evolved along with some spiders’ reliance on vision for hunting.
Some evidence suggests that colorful markings may also play a role in attracting insect prey to the web. Orb-weaving spiders tend to be most active during the day, so vibrant colors could provide a visual signal that draws attention and aids in capturing food.
However, camouflage remains vital, as spiders do not want to be conspicuous enough to attract larger predators. So the colors often strike a balance between being eye-catching to insects, but not so obvious as to make the spider an easy target.
Crab spiders comprise the family Thomisidae, a group of predators that actively hunt rather than building webs to trap prey. There are around 175 genera and over 2,000 species of crab spiders globally.
Some of the most colorful members of this family include:
- Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) – Native to North America, this species can range from white to yellow or pink in order to blend in with flowers.
- Orchard spider (Leucage venusta) – Found in Europe and North Africa, these spiders are black with white, orange and yellow markings.
- Flower crab spider (Thomisus spectabilis) – Occurs in Asia and Australia, this species is known for its vivid red coloring.
- Bristly crab spider (Poecilochroa variana) – Native to Central America, this spider has spiky hairs, often in oranges and yellows.
Similar to orb-weavers, crab spiders rely on camouflage and sometimes warning colors to avoid being eaten while they lie in ambush for prey. Their flattened bodies and ability to change color helps them phenomenally disguise themselves as flowers, leaves, bark, lichens, bird droppings and more.
Some crab spiders may also mimic colors that attract specific pollinating insects they prey upon. For example, Misumena vatia comes in a white form that resembles the flowers of Queen Anne’s lace and other plants pollinated by wasps and bees. This color mimicry helps lure in potential meals.
Jumping spiders comprise the family Salticidae, a group of over 6,000 species known for their quick movements and ability to leap on prey. They have some of the most sophisticated eyes among spiders and excel at stalking, chasing and pouncing on insects and other arthropods.
A few jumping spiders exhibit brilliant iridescent coloring, including:
- Peacock jumping spider (Maratus volans) – Found in Australia, this spider has vibrant red, orange, green and black markings when displaying courtship colors.
- Mahuika magnifica – Recently discovered in New Zealand, this spider has an iridescent green sheen with patches of red scales.
- Cosmophasis umbratica – Occurring in Singapore, this spider has a metallic green cephalothorax and brilliant orange abdomen.
In jumping spiders, the colors are believed to primarily function in mating displays rather than camouflage. The males in particular may have radiant scales or hair tufts that they exhibit to attract females during courtship rituals.
However, some jumping spiders can change color over hours or weeks to better match their habitat. So they may also use coloration to help with concealment during hunting or avoiding predators.
Lynx spiders belong to the family Oxyopidae and are ambush hunters that pounce on prey rather than building webs. They have excellent eyesight and get their name from the spiky hairs on their legs that resemble the tufted ears of a lynx.
Some of the more vibrantly colored lynx spiders include:
- Green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) – Found in warmer parts of the Americas, this species is bright green with patches of yellow, orange or red.
- Orchard lynx spider (Oxyopes salticus) – Native worldwide, this spider may have white or yellow stripes on a background of greens or oranges.
The bright greens and yellows of lynx spiders help them blend in with leaves and branches as they wait motionless for prey to come near. Some also use wasp-mimicking color patterns with blacks, yellows and whites to deter predation. The wasp-like appearance warns potential predators of a possible sting.
Tarantulas comprise over 1,000 species in the Theraphosidae family of large, hairy spiders. Most are drab grays, browns and blacks, but some do display brilliant blues, greens, oranges and yellows:
- Cobalt blue tarantula (Haplopelma lividum) – This spider from Southeast Asia lives in deep burrows and has vibrant blue legs, feet and fang sheaths.
- Orange baboon tarantula (Pterinochilus murinus) – From Africa, this fast and aggressive spider has orange knees and a green carapace.
- Gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica) – Only found in a small Indian forest, this spider has an iridescent blue sheen on its legs and abdomen.
The bright colors may help tarantulas recognize others of the same species, or serve to warn predators that they are venomous. However, since tarantulas mostly hide in burrows, visual signals are likely less important than for other wandering spider groups that rely on camouflage. Their size and thick coat of urticating hairs already deters most predators.
Identifying Green and Orange Spiders
To identify a spider as a specific species, you need to closely examine its anatomy and coloring. Look at the patterning on the abdomen, legs, mouthparts and cephalothorax. Also note details like spines, hair tufts, stripes and banding. Key identification features include:
- Body shape and size – Is the body rounded or flattened? Fat or slender? Tiny or large?
- Leg length and thickness – Are the legs short or long relative to the body? Thick or thin?
- Cephalothorax design – Does it have stripes, bands of color, or uniform pigment?
- Abdominal pattern – What colors, shapes, stripes or spots are on the abdomen?
- Eye arrangement – Where are the spider’s eyes located, and how many are there?
You may need a magnifying glass or microscope to see some finer details and markings. Compare the specimen visually to photos in arachnid field guides or diagnostic keys to narrow down possibilities.
Sometimes genetic testing or microscopic examination of genitalia may be needed for definitive species-level identification. An expert arachnologist can also examine characteristic behaviors and habitats to aid ID.
Knowing where in the world the spider was found gives critical clues to its identity. Certain species occur on specific continents, regions or habitats. For instance:
- Garden spiders like Araneus diadematus are only found in Eurasia, not the Americas.
- Tarantulas have limited ranges in Africa, Asia, the Americas or Australia.
- Orb-weavers in temperate climates differ from tropical regions.
So a location can immediately rule out a large number of species. Use a field guide specific to spiders of the appropriate region.
Molting and Color Changes
Spider colors can vary considerably throughout a molting cycle, as new exoskeletons tend to be brighter and more vividly patterned. Colors also fade as hairs rub off over time.
Young spiderlings may be dramatically more colorful than duller adults of the same species. And some spiders have cryptic juvenile forms that change structure and coloration as they mature.
Use caution if you believe a spider could be venomous. Widow spiders and some other species may have warning reds, oranges, yellows or greens. The characteristic red hourglass on a black abdomen signals a western widow.
Brightly banded legs on a large, hairy spider could indicate a venomous tarantula species. However, most colorfully patterned spiders in backyards and gardens are harmless to humans.
While many spiders are plain and inconspicuous, some remarkable species display eyecatching greens, oranges, yellows, whites and metallic hues. These colors may variously serve purposes like:
- Camouflage to hide from prey or predators
- Warning/aposematic coloration to signal toxicity
- Attracting insect prey to webs
- Visual courtship displays to attract mates
- Species or sex recognition
Orb-weavers, crab spiders, jumping spiders, lynx spiders and tarantulas include some examples of creatively colored species. Identifying a specific spider requires close observation of anatomical and geographic traits, aided by field guides and diagnostic resources. With over 48,000 diverse spider species globally, their vibrant colors and patterns continue to fascinate and inspire awe in nature enthusiasts.