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. Janet

    This has been so timely for us. My DS, age 6, really got into spiders this week, so we put certain lessons aside or revised them to study spiders. Your post and picture are simply incredible. Thanks for sharing, too. He loved it!
    As for me, all I can say is it was truly a labor of love to spend this week looking at spiders with and for my son. Bleck!

  2. Susan Ryan

    Thank you, thank you Laurie! You saved me a bit of googling with the information you provided.

    Right outside our boys’ bedroom window was an Argiope spider up until the last couple of days. Kelly would wake up to his spider and watch it for a while before he got out of bed. Then, I would be regaled with what the spider had for breakfast that morning.

    We have several in our garden too. The spiders are very impressive and the webs are gorgeous in the morning with the dew.

  3. Kathryn

    Thanks for all the great info on Argiope spiders. We’ve been checking out all the spiders at our new home and have seen several of these but didn’t know their name!

  4. Dorothy Larmore

    Thanks for the info. Being pregnant i’ve been told that certain spiders and bugs might be harmful to my baby. They also terrified me because this is the largest spider i have ever seen!
    Between your information and other resourses i’ve found i now know that this spider for the most part is harmless. We’ve got about 8 of them hanging off the morning glories to the fence next door. They are truly beautiful spiders, though still scary.



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