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Re: OT-CHAT: caterpillars & spiders

  • Subject: Re: [iris-talk] OT-CHAT: caterpillars & spiders
  • From: Bill Shear <wshear@hsc.edu>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 09:05:50 -0400

On 9/21/01 7:21 AM, "Steve & Sharlyn Rocha" <srocha@pacbell.net> wrote:

> Hello List,
>   I have a couple of pictures of a spider in my yard, can someone identify
> it? There are two of them in different locations. They have created egg
> containers also that are almost an inch in diameter.
> http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/7679/spider.html
> Steve

Your spider is Argiope aurantia, commonly known as the Garden Spider,
Writing Spider, or Black-and-Yellow Argiope.  The specimen in the picture is
unusual because of the brown, rather than black, markings on the abdomen.

These spiders mature in late summer and become very obvious.  I always get
several enquiries about them around this time of year.

The web is usually made fairly low to the ground, almost never more than a
meter high, in weeds.  Grasshoppers are the main prey of adults and large
young.  The web is renewed every few days, depending on damage.  The spiders
rest on the center of the web during the day, and that's why they are so
easily seen and attract so much attention.  Almost always it is the females
that are reported; the males are very much smaller and have usually died off
by this time.

A zig-zag ribbon of white silk is often woven across the center of the web,
the source of the "Writing Spider" common name.  In Appalachia, it is
considered very bad forture if you can make out your name in the "writing."
Egg sacs are made in vegetation near the web, survive the winter, and in
spring hatch out 100-300 tiny young spiders.  The young spiders climb up
adjacent objects, face the wind, and let out silk.  When the drag on the
silk is greater than their weight, they let go and sail off in the wind.
They can be transported many miles this way.

This spider is found predominantly in moist areas and is absent from most of
the arid southwest.  It has been recorded from New Brunswick, Canada, south
to Guatemala City.  In the United States, it becomes scarce west of
Missouri, but is fairly abundant along the Texas Gulf Coast.  It has been
recorded on the west coast from Tiajuana to Portland, Oregon.

Bill Shear

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