Jack Frost and the Writing Spider
For many months, I’ve enjoyed trips to the garden to check on the colorful Writing Spider (Argiope aurantia) that made its home in the center of my compost bins. “Black and Yellow Garden Spider” is another common name, but "Writing Spider" always stuck with me because of the large zigzag or x-shaped pattern in the center of the web.
These spiders can be somewhat threatening looking, with their large bodies and pointed black legs. But, they are not harmful to (or aggressive toward) humans. In fact, the female is typically very easy to observe because she will stay motionless for long periods of time, facing head-down in the center of the web, waiting for the next meal (insect) to be snared in its web.
Unfortunately, the days are numbered for enjoying these beautiful creatures this year, as the arrival of frost signals their demise. But, the Writing Spider usually has 1,000+ offspring that can emerge the following spring; so maybe I will see a few of the “kids” next year.
Here are a few more interesting tidbits about Argiope aurantia:
* The female spends several hours consuming and then rebuilding its web every night.
* Spider’s silk is the strongest known fiber.
* The female Writing Spider is much larger (up to 3x) than the male.
* Writing Spiders are found throughout the USA (though not common in the Rocky Mountain range).
* They prefer sunny locations, often building their web between tall flowers or shrubs.
* Argiope is an orb-weaver, spinning large and intricate webs.
<<< This photo below was taken 9-1-2012; which was the only time I found the Writing Spider away from its usual "hangout" at the center of the web.
Blog Entry and Photos by Mark Murphy, CMG
The Biography of the Writing Spider,
San Francisco State University,
Charlotte Ely (student), edited by Barbara Holzman, PhD