From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
October 2017 Issue

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Spider on a web
Noppadol Paothong

Wild Guide

Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider | Argiope aurantia

  • Status: Common statewide
  • Size: Length (not counting legs): 3/4–1 inch (females); about 1/4 inch (males)
  • Distribution: Tall grasslands and vegetation near homes statewide

Chances are this large, black-and-yellow spider looks familiar to you. It builds its web in gardens and grassy areas near homes. In fact, you could call this spider a squatter because once it’s established residence, it tends to stay put for the duration of the season. This spider guards its home through movement. When disturbed, this species often causes its web to vibrate, making it harder for predators to capture them.

Life Cycle

Young spiderlings hatch in spring and disperse by ballooning on strands of silk that catch the breeze. Once mature, they breed only once. The much-smaller male begins the courting ritual by plucking strands of the female’s web. All summer, females eat insects and create large egg cases that can contain over 1,000 eggs each. As temperatures cool, the female slows and dies in the first frosts.

Foods

A variety of insects may fall prey to this spider, especially grasshoppers and katydids. Once an insect is caught in its web, the spider often shakes the web to more fully ensnare the insect. Then, the spider further subdues its prey by injecting it with venom and wrapping it securely in sheets of silk.

Ecosystem Connections

In addition to their role as predators, these spiders and their egg cases often fall prey to birds, snakes, and even praying mantises. Additionally, certain species of smaller spiders can use black-and-yellow garden spider webs as their own and may feed on the tiny insects caught in the web.

Did You Know?

Black-and-yellow garden spiders help control insect pests and are particularly appreciated by gardeners. Because of their colorful patterns, localized nature, remarkable web architecture, and easily observed behaviors, these spiders are excellent creatures for children and adults to watch.

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This Issue's Staff:

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler