Black and Yellow Garden Spider
The black and yellow garden spider is found throughout the United States (with the exception of Alaska) and southern Canada.
They spin their webs in a typical pattern of concentric circles and radiating threads similar to the spokes of a wheel. Their webs also contain a distinctive zigzagged line that generally radiates out from the center.
These spiders are commonly encountered in open spaces, backyards and gardens on bushes or flowers where they can create large webs of up to two feet wide. They like to construct their webs in sunny areas where wind is minimal, and they rebuild them daily. Interestingly, the males will construct a smaller web that is in or adjacent to a female's.
The black and yellow garden spider can be rather large, with the female's body length reaching up to 1-1/8″ inches and, including its legs, close to 3 inches long from end to end. The spider's elongated abdomen typically has black and yellow or black and orange markings. Its legs are mostly black with yellow or red bands and three claws on each. The males are quite a bit smaller than the females, about half the size, but often times have brighter markings.
These spiders can be intimidating due to their size, but their bite is not known to be harmful to humans. If the spider feels threatened, it may drop to the ground and hide.
Black and yellow garden spiders are most active in the daytime. They usually hang upside down in the center of the web while the sticky fibers help trap insects for them to eat. The spider will wrap its prey in silk and inject venom to paralyze it. Their prey includes bees, grasshoppers, and wasps, among others.
After the female lays her eggs, she covers them with a couple more layers of silk for protection. The outer layer is brown and somewhat paper-like. She makes up to four sacs and can lay as many as 1,000 eggs in each. As the winter months approach, the female becomes weaker and will usually die by the time freezing temperatures set in. The young spiderlings hatch in the spring.