Missing-sector Orb Weaver

Zygiella x-notata

Missing-sector Orb Weaver (Zygiella x-notata)

The males and females of the species are very similar, but the males being smaller in dimensions. They have slightly elongated, more flattened abdomens compared to other members of the genus. It has a dark, broad median longitudinal band on the prosoma (the fused head and thorax region, also called the cephalothorax), on a lighter yellowish-brown ground colour. The dorsal surface of the abdomen is covered in a broad band with indented edges (the folium), white-edged with a darker interior and a lighter median line. Body length up to 7mm.

Missing-sector Orb Weaver (Zygiella x-notata)

Missing-sector spiders have an unfinished-looking vertical circular web design which makes it appear damaged in someway. There is indeed a missing sector, a ‘large V’ shape opening. The missing sector seems an odd evolutionary design whereby the webs capture area is reduced, but this space accommodates the signal thread which helps to alert the spider which is concealed in a corner when prey are snared. They feed on flies and other small flying insects caught in its web.

Missing-sector Orb Weaver (Zygiella x-notata)

The adults are seen from July to around October, whilst the spiderlings emerge in early spring. It is commonly found in urban areas, around buildings in gardens. A common and widespread species, but sparser further north, especially in Scotland.

Of note, Clerck named the species x-notata due to his observations of the astronomical sign of Pisces seen on the spider’s upper forepart of the abdomen, an ‘X’ shape.

Photographs of Missing-sector Orb Weaver (Zygiella x-notata) taken March 2014 and July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014 and 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.