Cat-faced Spiders. The Mysteries of this Rare Arachnid


Cat-faced spiders are a type of orb-weaving spider in the genus Araneus. They get their name from markings on their abdomen which resemble a cat’s face. Cat-faced spiders are native to many parts of the western United States from Washington to southern California, as well as parts of northern Mexico. Even though they may look fierce, cat-faced spiders are not considered dangerous to humans and rarely bite. Their webs can reach up to 2 feet in diameter and are commonly found in backyards, gardens, and other outdoor areas.

Some interesting facts about cat-faced spiders are that females are much larger than males, growing up to 1 inch in body length. Their webs are easy to recognize and are built vertically between plants and structures. Cat-faced spiders shake their webs vigorously when disturbed to warn off potential predators. They play an important role in controlling insect pest populations.


The cat-faced spider is named for the distinctive markings on its abdomen that resemble a cat’s face. The markings include two “eyes” formed from dark patches, a “nose” made by a semicircular indentation, and “cheeks” formed by two slightly raised mounds on either side of the nose (Cat-Faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides)).

These spiders have an oval-shaped abdomen that can grow up to 2 inches long. The background coloration ranges from yellow or tan to dark brown or grey. In addition to the cat face, the abdomen has a pattern of light and dark patches or stripes. The legs are banded with brown and yellow rings (Cat-faced Spider).

Males and females look similar, but females tend to be slightly larger. Immature spiders resemble the adults but with smaller abdominal markings.


The cat-faced spider is primarily nocturnal, spending most of the daytime hours hiding in a crevice or folded leaf while waiting for nightfall to begin hunting ( As nocturnal hunters, cat-faced spiders build their webs and capture prey during the night.

Cat-faced spiders are very skilled at spinning webs to capture prey. They construct a sticky irregular web a few feet off the ground, often using vegetation as anchor points. The sticky strands allow the spider to ensnare insects and other small prey ( The webs are spun each night and taken down during the day to hide their location. Cat-faced spiders are able to spin high-quality webs repeatedly each night.


The cat-faced spider prefers warm, dry areas and is often found in barns, sheds, and other structures. According to the source, this species is common in “fields, forests, [and] near man-made structures.” Its habitat range extends across much of the United States and southward into Mexico.

This spider tends to construct its large, prominent webs on vertical surfaces such as walls. It often chooses spots near lights, where insects may be attracted at night. Cat-faced spiders may be considered household pests, but they do not establish colonies indoors. Their populations thrive in undisturbed, dry outdoor areas with an abundance of prey.


The cat-faced spider is an opportunistic predator that feeds mainly on insects. According to the Cat-Faced Spider article on A-Z Animals, cat-faced spiders are “nocturnal hunters that build messy, tangled webs of non-sticky silk to capture crawling insects like beetles, crickets, cockroaches, and caterpillars.” [1] They employ the “sit and wait” method of hunting, staying very still in their webs and waiting for prey to become ensnared.

Cat-faced spiders do not actually construct the classic orb-shaped webs that many spiders are known for. As noted in the Cat-Faced Spider article by Texas Parks & Wildlife, their webs are “a tangled mass of silk with a retreat off to one side.” [2] When an insect walks into the web and becomes trapped, the spider quickly bites and wraps it in silk to subdue it. The venom from their bite is not considered medically significant to humans.

Their preferred prey includes moths, flies, crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, and other smaller bugs they can overpower. They may also occasionally eat other spiders. Overall, the cat-faced spider plays an important role as an insectivore in its native habitats.


The reproduction process begins when a male cat-faced spider locates a female and initiates courtship. The male will dance and wave his front legs to get the female’s attention (Cat-faced Spider, 2022). If she is receptive, the male will deposit his sperm into the female’s reproductive organs using his pedipalps.

After mating, the female produces an egg sac that can contain anywhere from 100 to 900 eggs, depending on her size and age. The egg sacs are rounded with a flat bottom and resemble a tiny pumpkin. The female attaches the egg sac to a branch or other structure and guards it until the spiderlings emerge. This can take between 20 to 30 days (Cat-Faced Spider – Araneus gemmoides, 2023).

When the spiderlings hatch, they remain in the egg sac for a few days before dispersing. The mother cat-faced spider dies shortly after the spiderlings leave the egg sac. The young spiders will balloon on threads of silk to disperse to new locations (Cat-faced Spider, 2022).


Cat-faced spiders have several natural predators that prey on them. Birds, especially blue jays, will readily eat cat-faced spiders if they come across them.1 Lizards are also known to hunt and consume cat-faced spiders when they can capture them. Some species of lizard can even climb up trees and shrubs to reach the cat-faced spider’s web. Additionally, other spiders pose a predatory threat, as some larger spider species will feed on smaller spiders like the cat-faced spider if given the opportunity.

Native Range

The native range for cat-faced spiders includes primarily the southern United States.[1] This includes states like Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and southern parts of Missouri.[1] They can also be found in parts of southern California. The native range extends past the southern U.S. borders into Mexico, Central America, and some Caribbean islands. So while they are primarily concentrated in the southern region of the United States, their native territory reaches further south as well.

Some key facts about the cat-faced spider’s native range:[2]

  • They can survive in tropical and subtropical climates.
  • They prefer warmer environments.
  • They are generally not found in northern U.S. states or Canada.
  • They thrive in areas like forests, shrubs, and human-inhabited regions.

So in summary, the native range for these spiders centers around the southern U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean – essentially warmer environments.


Interesting Facts

The cat-faced spider has some fascinating traits that make it unique. One of the most notable is its impressive legspan size. According to A-Z Animals, the cat-faced spider can reach a legspan of up to 5 inches wide when fully grown. Their large size allows them to build impressive webs to catch prey.

These spiders can also live fairly long lives. states that female cat-faced spiders may live for several years. This gives them plenty of time to reproduce and populate new areas.

Finally, the cat-faced spider gets its common name from the unique markings on its abdomen. When viewed from above, the pattern resembles a human face or mask, like that of a cat. This facial pattern sets the spider apart and gives it a recognizable nickname that refers to its distinctive look.


In summary, the cat-faced spider is a fascinating species of orb-weaver spider native to North America. It gets its name from the patterns on its abdomen that resemble a human face. Some key facts about the cat-faced spider are:

– They build large, intricate webs with a zigzag pattern through the middle to catch prey like insects and other small invertebrates.

– Females are much larger than males and can reach over one inch in body length.

– They are identifiable by their grey-brown coloring with white, black and orange markings.

– Cat-faced spiders reproduce in the fall and the female watches over her egg sac through the winter before the young emerge in spring.

– While venomous, they are not considered dangerous to humans.

The cat-faced spider is an intriguing native species. Their unique facial patterns, complex webs and importance in controlling insect populations in North America make them a fascinating subject to learn about.

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