Zip it Up!

An Argiope spider was spotted near our garden!

Common Name:  The black and yellow argiope is also called banana spider, yellow garden spider, zipper spider, golden orb weaver and writing spider. 

The largest orb weaver in our gardens is the black and yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia).  The female is large, the males being much smaller by comparison. Although big enough to deliver a bite, these spiders are not poisonous or aggressive.

Scientific Name: Class Arachnida, Order Araneae, many families

Size: Varies

Identification: Spiders are not insects; they have no antennae, eight segmented legs instead of six, as insects do. Many construct webs for capturing prey. Jumping spiders of the family Salticidae are colorful and leap to capture prey on the leaves. Wolf spiders of the family Lycosidae run rapidly on the ground to catch prey at the base of plants. Garden spiders or orb-weavers of the family Araneidae string vertical webs to trap flying insects. Funnel-web spiders of the family Agelinidae create funnel webs and trap leafhoppers primarily. Crab spiders like flowers where they blend in with the colorful petals waiting to ambush their next meal.

Biology and Life Cycle: Males are often smaller than females. Not all spiders spin webs. Some live in tunnels. Most spiders lay eggs in silken sacs, which may be attached to the web or to twigs or leaves. Some carry the sac with them. Young are called spiderlings, look like adults, and are often cannibals.

Habitat: Different spiders live in many different plants and habitats--beehives, wood scraps, fencerows, vegetable crops, and ornamental plantings.

Feeding habits: Paralyze with venom and feed on insects and other small animals.

Ecological importance: Spiders are highly beneficial because they feed on many troublesome insects.

Al Bartell