Have you looked at your spiders today?

by | Science | 3 comments

Do you know what we would be doing today if my kids were young again? We’d be in the garden studying Black and Yellow Argiope. Towards the end of August, these particular spiders start to make large — very large — webs in our garden. There are probably 15 in the garden today. We could take our digital camera out there and photograph several spiders, comparing the design of their webs and doing other “experiments.”

PHYLUM: Arthropod
CLASS: Arachnid
ORDER: Araneae
FAMILY: Araneidae
GENUS: Argiope
SPECIES: Argiope aurantia

Black and Yellow Argiope is an orb-web spider, meaning it builds a circular web which it both lives in and uses to catch food. Notice the stabilimenta in the center of the web. Only diurnal (active in the daytime) spiders use stabilimenta. It’s not known exactly what purpose this zigzag pattern serves. Scientists are divided on the issue. It could do one or more of the following:

1. Strengthen the structure of the web.
2. Camouflage the spider
3. Help to attract flying insects by reflecting ultraviolet light.
4. Startle predators and keep them from bumping or flying into and destroying the web, although hungry spiders are less likely to build stabilimenta.

I wonder if perhaps the design of the stabilimenta is in any way specific to each particular spider.

When Argiope aurantia is disturbed, she vibrates her web. This makes her appear larger and more threatening. It sure scares me when she does this. It makes me think she’s getting ready to jump on me, and I’ll always back away.

Harvey told me I should just go out and study them on my own today, but, no, it’s no fun learning something new if you don’t have a few little munchkins following along.

Don’t let the kitchen floor, or the weeding, or the tomato juice canning, or the shopping, or the spelling workbook interfere with the fun of real learning.


  1. Anita

    Thank you!!!

  2. Tami Griffeth

    My parents in SE Iowa had one of these and its web attached between a post on the front porch and a bush next to it. I’d check on it every day. Mom thought I was crazy to be so interested in watching it. I tried to get some pictures of it, but couldn’t get the image to show up well enough. Thanks.


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