Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia
Araneidae or Orb-Weaver Family

Female in web

The female is a large, formidable spider with a black abdomen distinctively marked with 4 yellow spots and yellow side bands. The cephalothorax (fused head and thorax) is whitish. The legs are striped brown and black. Underneath, the brown silk spinner is prominent, as are the relatively enormous fangs (see below, left) with which it captures and poisons prey. The male is considerably smaller, and a non-descript reddish-brown. The act of mating is so exciting to the male that he invariably dies of heart failure, and is sometimes eaten by his mate. Considered harmless to humans, despite the size and formidable fangs.



Female underside

This spider builds large webs in open areas to catch their insect prey. A dense zig-zag structure in the center of the web (the stabilimentum -- see bottom left) was formerly believed to strengthen the web, but is now proposed to either attract prey, or warn birds from flying into the web, or both. The picture at top right also shows some hapless prey stored in the pantry near the stabilmentum. The female at bottom right is guarding a sac of eggs. Because they hang out in the open, they are favored prey of European giant hornets.

Female topside
Female with stabilimentum

Native throughout North America (and Hawai'i!) Very common in our area, in Wildwood, as well as outside. Usually seen in late summer or early fall when they are most active, and fully grown.

The female is easily identified by the prominent and distinctive color pattern. The male is hard to identify, and unlikely to even be noticed, except by the female.


Female with eggs

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