Spiders are one of the largest orders of arachnids. They are classified into families like Salticidae and Araneidae among others. Salticidae comprises jumping spiders, while Araneidae comprises the spiders that are capable of weaving a web and are called orb weavers.
Neoscona is the genus of orb weavers that has a wider distribution range. It was first described by French naturalist and spider taxonomist, Eugène Simon. The name was derived from the Greek νέω, meaning ‘spin’, and σχοῐνος, meaning ‘reed’.
Out for a walk on my terrace, I kept a watchful eye for some nocturnal critters, when I came across something strange on the clothesline. On closer examination, it was a species of neoscona, but the kind of web it had woven was not a regular one. It was a V-shaped web, like that of spiders belonging to the family theridiidae, but with a neoscona on it. After observing the spider for a couple of seconds, I realised that it was not there to hunt, but to moult.
Moulting is the process where an animal casts off a part of its body either at a specific time of the year or at a specific point of time in its life. It can involve shedding of the skin, hair or any other external layer. Arachnids regularly shed their exoskeleton or outer shell to grow. In the days leading up to moulting, they are known to fast for long periods and often become reclusive. It is a vulnerable time for them, as male spiders have been seen taking advantage of this and mating with moulting females. This keeps male spiders safe from becoming prey.
The neoscona spider I observed was suspended on a dragline and was using gravity to moult. It had chosen a spot that was about 5 feet from the ground.