Most recently reviewed by: David Kerns & Janet Hurley (2020)
Common Name(s): argiope
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. These spiders are 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.
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.
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/