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Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia)


The Black and Yellow Argiope is a common orb web spider. Orb web means it spins a web like a circle.

Female spiders are much larger than males, growing almost an inch and a half long. Males grow about 3/4 inch long. Both spiders have a cephalothorax (small front body section) with silver hairs on it. The abdomen (large back section) is egg-shaped with black and yellow coloring.  Legs of these spiders are black with red or yellow bands. Each leg has three claws on the end.

Black and Yellow Argiopes live in fields and gardens. They can be found on shrubs, tall plants, and flowers.  These spiders are most active during the daytime.

The web of this spider spirals out from the center and can be two feet across. The female builds the large web, and a male will build a smaller web on the outer part of her web. The male's web is a thick zig-zag of white silk.  These spiders prefer sunny places with little or no wind to build their webs. Each night, they eat their web and build a new one.

Black and Yellow Argiopes eat flying insects that get trapped in the sticky web. The most common ones are aphids, flies, grasshoppers, bees, and wasps.  The spider hangs with her head down in the center of her web, waiting for prey to be caught. Sometimes she hides off to the side with a thin silk thread attached to her web. When an insect hits the web, the spider feels the vibrations and comes running.

After mating, the female spider lays eggs on one side of the web, then covers it with a papery sac. The egg sac can be up to an inch wide. Over a thousand eggs may be inside.  After laying eggs, the female dies. The baby spiders hatch from their eggs in the Fall, but they stay inside the sac through Winter.  In the Spring, the young spiders leave the sac and go off on their own.

Their predators include birds, some species of wasps (especially mud daubers), and other spider-eaters, such as shrews and lizards.

Black and Yellow Garden Spiders are harmless to humans. Because they are large, many people fear them; however, not only are they harmless, but they do a lot of good. 

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