APPEARANCE & IDENTIFICATION
There are many species of spiders that are categorized as garden spiders. For this article, we’ll look at the black and yellow argiope, which is also commonly called the garden spider. This species is a large spider that is brightly colored black and yellow and is one of many spiders categorized as an orb weaver spider. This spider’s legs are red on the leg section nearest the body, while the other sections of the legs are colored black.
Garden spiders and other orb weavers are easily recognized by the architecture of their web. The typical web spun by these spiders is large, very neatly organized, and has a series of concentric circles through which radial lines of webbing are spun between the circles. If one envisions the typical orb weaver spider web design, just picture webs that are popular in Halloween supply stores and more than likely you’ve got the picture of what an orb weaver web looks like.
Garden spiders are not medically important and only bite when threatened or continuously disturbed. Most of the time, these spiders drop from their webs and seek a protected site on the ground to avoid disturbances. Symptoms of a garden spider bite include some swelling and discomfort that rarely rivals the pain from wasp and bee stings.
The black and yellow argiope is found throughout most of the United States. Females live about one year and die after the first cold, frosty days of late fall or early winter. In more temperate areas, females may live up to several years. Males usually live only until they mate, but they play a curious role in web building since they build a light-colored, zigzag web band that seems be important to alert birds to stay away from the web and not destroy it.
Garden spiders eat small flying insects that get trapped in their webs.
The garden spider is found in a very wide range of habitats, including gardens, meadows, and woodland clearings. They prefer to build their webs close to tall plants located around flowers. It is not unusual for a homeowner to discover a large web in a sunny area that is positioned between two shrubs or bushes in an area near flowering plants.
REPRODUCTION & LIFECYCLE
The yellow and black argiope garden spider lays her eggs in an egg sac that is up to about one inch long. She attaches the egg sac to the side of the web that is close to where she rests. She may then die, depending upon the temperature conditions where she is located. The eggs hatch in autumn and the young spiderlings overwinter in the egg sac. In early spring, the spiderlings, numbering from 500 to 1,000, will emerge from the egg sac, grow up, and reach maturity sometime in the summer months.
SIGNS OF THEIR PRESENCE
The presence of the spider and its associated web is the most obvious sign of their activity.
PREVENTION & CONTROL TIPS
Since these spiders are not considered to be medically important and rarely, if ever, take up residence inside structures, prevention and control is usually unnecessary. However, if the fear of spiders (arachnophobia) is overwhelming, some important actions to consider might include:
- Disturbing or removing the web until the spider moves to a less obvious place where homeowners won’t see the web.
- If possible, using sodium vapor lights outdoors to help prevent the accumulation of night flying insects.
- As a last resort, using a direct application non-residual insecticide aerosol sprayed on the spider.
- Educating members of the family that it is best, in the long run, to reach a decision to let live the spiders live.