Monday, April 6, 2009
These lovely spiders are commonly called Black & Yellow Garden Spiders. They belong to the family of Orb Weavers (Araneidae). This one is in the Genus Argiope, and are sometimes called Argiope Weavers.These are very common in Missouri, hanging out in our gardens. Each year I have several that build their intricate webs in various places in my yard. Their webs are unmistakable, they feature a unique "Zig-Zag" pattern. This zig-zag is called a stadiliamenta, and you will find the female resting upside down on top of the zig-zag. I am always pleased to see them, not only for the insect control they provide, but for their gorgeous coloring. The much smaller and more drably colored male will approach a female with which he is wants to mate. In order to determine if she is receptive of his attentions he will tap out an elaborate little dance on the strings of the web. If she approves of his dance steps she will allow mating to occur, if not he may become dinner. After mating, the female will create an egg sac to house her eggs in. It will contain numerous young spiderlings. This sac will overwinter in a corner of the web near vegetation. In late spring the young will hatch and after their first molt they will diperse to other places. Sometimes the young spiderlings will lose a leg during the molting process. Should this occur they will generate a new leg at the next molt. Even though they are boldly colored they are considered harmless to human. They do have venom just like all spiders, but it is not known to be toxic. If handled inappropriately they would probably bite. Pictured:The 1st picture is of a female using her coloring to her advantage, as you can see even though they are brightly colored it still aids in their ability to camouflage themselves. 2nd picture is the much smaller male. The 3rd picture is a large female wrapping up a small butterfly in a silken cocoon to consume later. The 4th picture is the same large female in the signature pose, hanging out upside down in their web. Look for these wonderful spiders mid-summer in your flower beds and gardens. Be thankful they are there performing a great service.