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I see both of these spiders (and others) frequently on hiking trips outside of Taipei. Their large webs are often high overhead between trees but can be right across a hiking trail that hasn't been used in a few days, which can make for some excitement.

The two individuals shown in the photos were quite large; both had a body length of about 5 cm not counting legs.

They have similar body shapes but very different color. I don't know if they are completely different species, or different sex or different age.

I mostly see "Spider #2", and usually they are around 3-4 cm in body length. I see "Spider #1" much less frequently, and I don't think I have ever spotted a smaller individual, but that could just be due to lower frequency.


Spider 1:

I spotted this on on this plant, but once disturbed he started climbing up a vertical thread back into the threes.

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Spare photos: 1, 2

Spider 2:

I see these more often than Spider #1.

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Adjusted brightness, contrast, sharpness to make the structure of the web more visible:

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Spare photos: 1

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  • $\begingroup$ Bottom is definitively Nephila pilipes -- see here for example. Wikipedia mentions multiple subspecies that you might want to look into for more definitive ID of top specimen. Both of your specimens are females based on the extreme sexual dimorphism (specifically, female gigantism and male dwarfism) common in this group. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Dec 1 '18 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist that's why I put Spider #1 first, I see it less frequently than the brightly-colored Spider #2. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 1 '18 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ a 5 min search on my end didn't turn up anything that looked or was described quite like your top specimen. Definitely looks related, but not sure to what degree. Again, I'd start researching the subspecies to see if you find any leads... $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Dec 1 '18 at 4:34
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The following is from Biogeography and Speciation Patterns of the Golden Orb Spider Genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in Asia, Yong-Chao Su, Yung-Hau Chang, Deborah Smith, Ming-Sheng Zhu, Matjaž Kuntner and I-Min Tso, Zoological Science, 28(1):47-55. 2011., DOI: 10.2108/zsj.28.47 http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.2108/zsj.28.47

Spider 1 seems a good match for C in the images below, and Spider 2 matches A and B. So I propose that both spiders are Nephila pilipes but with different color patterns.

Biogeography and Speciation Patterns of the Golden Orb Spider Genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in Asia

Biogeography and Speciation Patterns of the Golden Orb Spider Genus Nephila (Araneae: Nephilidae) in Asia

Fig. 1. Nephila diversity in Asia and Australia and its extreme sexual size dimorphism: (A–E), N. pilipes; (A–B), female of the common color pattern, Taiwan; (C–D), female of the darker color pattern, Taiwan; (E), male (arrow) in copulatory pose on female, Singapore; (F–G), female N. antipodiana, Singapore; (H), female N. plumipes, Australia; (I–J), female N. clavata, Taiwan. Images by M. Kuntner (www.nephilidae.com).

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Both of those are variations of the Giant Golden Orb Spider, just of a different age. They might be large but they are not very dangerous. Their scientific name is Nephila pilipes if you want to do more research

Both of the spiders you have shown are females of the same species. As these spiders grow they molt and spider #1 should eventually develop the same pattern as spider #2 once it matures.

Nephila pilipes (northern golden orb weaver or giant golden orb weaver) is a species of golden orb-web spider. It can be found in Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. It is commonly found in primary and secondary forests and gardens. 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 the largest of the orb-weaving spiders apart from the recently discovered Nephila komaci, and one of the biggest spiders in the world.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just an interesting fact, in some regions people will eat these spiders once they are fully grown. $\endgroup$ – Joseph Dec 1 '18 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! At first glance I thought your comment said that in some regions these spiders eat fully grown people! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 1 '18 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ No they aren't that giant, but they can grow to be the size of someone's hand and eat birds or bats. $\endgroup$ – Joseph Dec 1 '18 at 3:21
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    $\begingroup$ if they are red a few mm big and several of them hang around the big spider then they are most likely the males. In this particular species the males are the smaller of the sexes. $\endgroup$ – Joseph Dec 1 '18 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Joseph. Welcome to Bio.SE! We ask that answers (especially) those to species ID provide ample support. Thank you for taking the time to link-to and quote from the Wikipedia article, but your claim that both specimens are the same species comes across as an opinion ("I believe...") without having any formal support provided. Since the relation between the 2 specimen's in the OP's post is the main question being asked, I ask that you provide additional support/detail to back up your opinion. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Dec 1 '18 at 4:28

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