Orb Weaver Spider is also known as Garden Spider, Black and Yellow Garden Spider, or Banana Spider. These are fairly large spiders, and while harmless to man, no one likes to come face-to-face with a large web. The body is generally hairless, and often patterened. The legs are hairy. There are numerous orb weaver spiders in this area.
Juvenile Black and Yellow Garden Spider
Like all spiders, Black-and-Yellow Argiopes are carnivorous. They spin an orb web to capture small flying insects such as aphids, flies, grasshoppers, and wasps. A female can take prey equal to 200% her own size.
The web can be several feet across. The spider hangs head down, in the center of the web while waiting for prey. Often, she holds her legs together in pairs so that it looks as if there are only four of them. Sometimes the spider may hide in a nearby leaf or grass stem, connected to the center of the web by a nonsticky thread which quivers when prey lands in the web.
Web construction is complicated. To start the web, Argiope
firmly grasps a substrate like a grass stem or window frame.
She lifts her abdomen and emits several strands of silk from
her spinnerets that merge into one thread. The free end of the
thread drifts until it touches something far away, like a stem
or a flower stalk. She then creates bridge lines, and other scaffolding
to help her build the framework of the web. She builds a hub
with threads radiating from it like spokes of a wheel. She switches
to sticky silk for the threads spiraling around this hub that
will actually catch her prey. It may take a few hours to complete
the web, then she eats the temporary scaffolding and the center
hub. Argiope spiders often add heavy zig-zagging portions in
their webs, thus the name Writing Spider. The entire web is usually
eaten and then rebuilt each night, usually in the same place.
Argiope spiders are active in the daytime. When disturbed, the spider might first vibrate the web aggressively, but if that fails to deter a predator she will drop to the ground and hide. Adults are often captured by wasps and birds.
These spiders can be found in meadows and gardens. They prefer sunny areas among flowers, shrubs, and tall plants.
Copyright material D. N. Searcy