Madagascar is home to many species of spiders, but one of the most striking and beautiful is the Madagascar Nephila (Nephila madagascariensis). These spiders are found everywhere on the island and are striking in size and shape.
One of the most common species of spiders in Madagascar is the genus Nephila. They are able to weave huge webs, using wires as supports and even spread them over small rivers. The web can be more than a meter in diameter, with support rope edges extending far beyond the web. The golden silk thread of this spider is almost as strong as Kevlar
The food of spiders in the genus Nephila consists of everything in their web, from small insects to large butterflies, grasshoppers and mantises. The venom of the spider is strong, but not dangerous to humans. The venom is a neurotoxin, similar to the venom of the Black Widow, but not as strong. Its bite causes local pain, redness and blisters, but these signs usually disappear within a day or two.
However, not all spider species in Madagascar are so harmless. In 2009, a previously unknown to science species of huge spider called Nephila komaci was discovered. This is the largest of the spiders known to science, however, only females are giants, the leg span of which reaches 12 cm. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find this giant.
The nets of most Nephila spiders are complex with fine-meshed balls in a maze of non-sticky nets. When the nets get old, the spiders eat out the worn-out part, replacing it with a new spiral-shaped patch. To avoid destruction, the spider leaves insect husks in the web as a guide and builds additional reinforcement nets around the main web.
But not only the unique web of Madagascar Nephilus attracts attention. About a hundred years ago, a French preacher developed a technology to collect the golden web from a million Madagascar spiders. This technology made it possible to create the largest web of spider silk in the world.
A British historian and an American businessman decided to use this technology and created a handmade masterpiece – the world’s largest “tablecloth” made of spider silk. The rarest item was exhibited in the U.S. and Great Britain.
Spiderwebs are some of nature’s most amazing creatures, and the Madagascar Nephila is one of the most beautiful and mysterious species. It attracts attention not only for its beauty, but also for its unique ability to create the strongest web in the world.