argiope1.jpgAfter noticing that another cat-face spider had set up hunting grounds in our garden this year (we saw our first one four years ago, and I chronicled its visit here), I realized I’d never shared another nifty arachnid who visited in late summer/early fall two years ago (we seem to have an every-two-year cycle going here).

Meet our black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), also known as “Spidey” (as every spider in our garden is destined to be named). She was BIG – like a good two inches across. And she, like the cat-face spider, was a member of the family Araneidae, the “orb weavers” of the spider world.argiope3.jpgSpidey’s web was beautiful, over a foot in diameter with the classic circular pattern used in many halloween decorations. She always wove a heavier zigzag in the middle. Some theorize that this is done to somehow attract prey or maybe even to warn off possible non-prey (like birds) from accidentally wrecking the web. She would work on her web after dark and didn’t seem to mind if I came out and watched for a bit. During the day, she would hang out upside-down in the center of her web, waiting to detect any motion on the strands (the cat-face spiders seem to prefer to hide a bit during the day).

She may have looked intimidating to us, but she truly was harmless to humans. The same can’t be said for the poor honeybees she caught with her web. They were quickly stunned and wrapped up in silk for later consumption.