A widespread species, the barn spider commonly builds its webs in woods and on the eaves of barns, houses, and similar structures. It is one of the common members of Missouri's spotted orbweavers (in genus Neoscona). The different species can be difficult to distinguish. Neoscona species are spiny-legged spiders that all tend to have camouflage patterns, and they all make characteristic, delicate, wheel-shaped webs to catch prey.
As with most other spiders, it is the female that builds webs. Males are smaller and rarely seen, unless they are visiting females. The female dismantles her web at dawn each morning by eating it. She hides in cracks and corners by day, and she spins a new large, round web at dusk. They often build webs near dusk-to-dawn lights, where they profit from the many flying insects the light attracts.
Learn more about this and other spotted orbweavers on their group page.
This species is sometimes called Hentz's orbweaver or Hentz orbweaver, because for a long time it was classified as Neoscona hentzii.
Most people are not keen on having spiders around their homes, or of walking right into them on hiking trails. But remember that spiders do us a wonderful service of free, nontoxic pest control, all summer long.