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Black-and-yellow Argiope, Zipper Spider, Corn Spider

Article author: John Few
Most recently reviewed by: Janet Hurley (1970)

Common Name(s): Black-and-yellow Argiope, Corn Spider, Zipper Spider

Description

Argiope aurantia sexual dimorphism

Argiope aurantia sexual dimorphism. Photo by Troy Bartlett.

The word Argiope means “with a bright face” in Latin. Like all spiders, they have a cephalothorax, abdomen, eight legs, fangs, and a silk spinner. Being an orb weaver, spiders in the genus Argiope spp. have a unique third claw on each leg that is used to assist in the weaving of the spider’s complex webs. Their webs are often large and have a zig-zag pattern in the center. The reason for this pattern is unknown, though it is thought that it may be used to attract prey. Argiope spp. spiders consume and rebuild their web every day. Known for their black and yellow patterns on their body, and occasionally an orange and/or black pattern on their legs, these spiders are incredibly beautiful and easily recognized. As with most spiders the females of this genus are larger than their male counterparts. Females are usually around ¾” to 1 ⅛” while males are usually ¼” to ⅜” in size.

Origin and Distribution

Found all over the world and in the lower 48 states of the U.S.A

Habitat & Hosts

Argiope spp.  spiders are not a pest in the traditional sense of the word as they do not feed on crops or garden plants, but to those who are afraid of spiders it can be considered a pest. As with most spiders, Argiope spp. are beneficial organisms because they kill and consume insect pests that damage crops and garden plants.

Life Cycle

Argiope spp. mate once a year. Mature male spiders roam in search of potential mates. Once a suitable mate has been found, the male then builds a web with a zig-zag pattern either in the middle of or on the outer area of the female’s web and begins to pluck the female’s web as a courting gesture. Once impregnated females lay one or more egg sacs in her web close to her resting position. Each egg sac contains anywhere between 300 to 1400 eggs. The mother watches over her eggs but will usually die at the first hard frost. Spiders usually hatch around autumn or summer and look similar to their adult counterparts. Most spiders usually live for around a year though some females can live for multiple years in warmer climates. Most males usually die after mating.

Citations

Hammond, G. 2002. “Argiope aurantia” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Argiope_aurantia/

Hawkinson, C. ND, “Galveston Master Gardeners Beneficials in the Garden, Black and Yellow Argiope Spider” (On-line), Aggie-Horticulture, Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-24_spider_blackandyellow_argiope.htm

Murray, M. 2018. “What is a spider” (On-line), Australia Museum, Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/species-identification/ask-an-expert/what-is-a-spiders/

Cotton Fleahopper

Article author: Allen Knutson
Most recently reviewed by: Suhas Vyavhare (2018)

Common Name(s): Cotton Fleahopper

Description

Cotton fleahopper nymph. Source: Xandra Morris[/caption]The adult fleahopper is about 1/8-inch long, pale green, and has sucking mouthparts. It is flat, with an elongated, oval outline and prominent antennae. Nymphs resemble adults but lack wings and have large, often reddish eyes. Nymphs are sometimes confused with immature minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, aphids, and lygus bug. But differences in color, shape, and behavioral patterns can help distinguish these insects from cotton fleahoppers.

Origin and Distribution

Cotton fleahopper is a native insect found throughout most of the southern US and northern Mexico, although it has been collected as far north as Minnesota and New Jersey.

Habitat & Hosts

Cotton fleahoppers feed on horsemint, cutleaf evening primrose, showy sundrops, woolly tidestromia, spotted beebalm (horsemint), lemon beebalm (horsemint), silverleaf nightshade and many other wild hosts. They are only a pest of cotton.

Life Cycle

Cotton fleahopper nymph. Source: Xandra Morris

Cotton fleahopper nymph. Source: Xandra Morris

The cotton fleahopper overwinters in the egg stage in wild host plants such as woolly croton and silverleaf nightshade. The eggs hatch in the spring and the young nymphs feed on sap of tender vegetation. Nymphs molt five times and in 14 to 15 days, mature to adults. Six to eight generations are completed per year.

In the spring and early summer, fleahopper populations increase on horsemint, cutleaf evening primrose, showy sundrops, woolly tidestromia, spotted beebalm (horsemint), lemon beebalm (horsemint), silverleaf nightshade and many other wild hosts. As these hosts mature, the cotton fleahopper adults fly in search of host plants with flower buds, including cotton, on which to deposit eggs.

The eggs are about 1/30 of an inch long and inserted under the bark of small stems and are thus very difficult to see without dissecting the stem. At 80°F, eggs hatch in about 11 days.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

Adult fleahoppers are pests of cotton where they feed on leaf and fruit buds.  Both adults and nymphs suck sap from the tender portion of the plant, including small squares (flower buds). Pinhead-size and smaller squares are most susceptible to damage. Damaged squares die and turn brown, resulting in a “blasted” appearance.  The damaged squares soon drop from the plant.

Cotton is primarily susceptible to cotton fleahopper damage during the first 3 weeks of squaring. Given sufficient time, cotton can compen­sate for lost squares with little impact on yield, particularly those lost during the first week of squaring in the more southern areas of the state. However, where the cotton is planted late, or the growing season is significantly shortened by cool temperatures, the crop may be less likely to compensate with lint yield and quality.

The action threshold for cotton fleahoppers var­ies depending on the region of Texas. When considering an insecticide application, be aware that as plants increase in size and fruit load, they can tolerate larger numbers of fleahop­pers without yield reduction. When plants are blooming, fleahopper control is rarely justified.

Guidelines for field scouting, treatment thresholds, insecticides and other management information is detailed in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publication Cotton Fleahoppers ENTO-073 and the Extension publication “Managing Cotton Insects in Texas ENTO-075″    https://agrilife.org/extensionento/resources/management-guides/managing-cotton-insects-in-texas/early-season-pests/

Related Publications

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publication “Managing Cotton Insects in Texas”  (ENTO-075)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publication “Managing Cotton Insects in Texas” publication (ENTO-075) (pdf)

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