The Nephila pilipes is commonly know as the Northern Golden Orb Weaver or Giant Golden Orb Weaver or the Large Woodland Spider. It is of the Nephilidae Family and was first published in 1793.
You can find the Giant Golden Orb Weaver throughout Hong Kong during the hot and humid months, which incidentally is most of the year.
Females are large and grow to a body size of 30–50 mm (overall size up to 20 cm), with males growing to 5–6 mm. It is one of the biggest spiders in the world. You will find the female generally smack bang in the middle of this golden web which is thick and strong. The male will generally be seen somewhere on the outskirts of the web and looks nothing like the female, it is small and light brown/red in color.
If you should happen to walk through the web of the Giant Golden Orb Weaver, you may actually hear the web tearing, it is that strong, and it will be yellow in color on your shirt. The webs can be up to 2 meters in diameter and are the strongest webs of any spider in the world. If undisturbed, the web of a Giant Golden Orb Weaver can last for up to two years!
These spiders catch their prey in their webs generally early in the morning, and spend the rest of the day wrapping it up in web much like a cocoon and then proceed to suck the nutrients out of it with their large fangs. Although not poisonous, this spider will bite if threatened, which will hurt like a wasp sting.
When out on the trail you can often pick up one of the strands and move it out of the way onto another plant so that you can get by. The spider won’t run out to bite you, but it may rear up on its web with its front legs raised ready for attack. Don’t be too bothered by it though. As long as you don’t face-plant the web with the Golden Orb Weaver right in the middle, then you’ll be ok.