Colorado Orb weaver – a juniper mimic, tentatively-identified

Here’s a few pics of an orb-weaving spider getting ready to spawn.  I’m uncertain, but it appears to be a type of “cat-faced” spider (perhaps Araneus gemmoides) that perfectly mimics the tiny brown scaly juniper buds that appear in the spring.  This fat momma spider is an inch in diameter (not counting the legs, when they are extended).  Looks pretty bizarre, but is a skittish and entirely harmless creature (and beneficial to the juniper it normally lives on, I’m guessing) .

Araneus gemmoides(?)

Araneus gemmoides(?)

Topside closeup

Topside closeup

Closeup of underside, showing spinnerets

Closeup of underside, showing spinnerets

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