Thursday, October 26, 2017

Argiope Aurantia Spider--Part 1, Friday 13th Visitor

On Friday the 13th, we got trees trimmed. While looking around mid-afternoon at the newer photinias from July last year, we spotted a yellow and black spider and its good-sized "orb" web. The design on the spider's back resembled a combination of alien faces and loving cup handles. Including the legs, the spider looked to be at least two inches end to end. (We were so fascinated by the size, the dorsal yellow and black design, and the vertical-facing zigzag near its head).

I posted to my LinkedIn feed and a listserve for ID help. A day later, I received corroborating info—a mouthful of a name—argiope aurantia spider.

"Argiope aurantia (Black and Yellow Garden Spider)"
Argiope is Latin for “with bright face” (Cameron 2005); aurantia, in Latin, is an adjective meaning “orange-colored.” … Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 14-28 mm; adult males range from 5-8 mm.
"Black-and-Yellow Argiope Spider"
Largest size spider in Galveston-Houston region. Females ? to 1? inches (19-28 mm). Males 1/4" to 3/8" (5-9 mm) … These spiders prefer sunny places with little or no wind to build their webs. Once they find suitable sites, they will stay there unless the web is frequently disturbed, or they can't catch enough food. Black-and-yellow argiope spiders often construct and repair their webs after dark. Their orb webs can be up to 2 feet in diameter and are very complex. is my normal go-to site for bugs. I noticed that both and state that body lengths exclude legs.

At "Species Argiope aurantia - Black-and-Yellow Argiope", size information "female: 14-25 mm … male: 5-6 mm (sizes do not include legs)" helped nudge me to rethink my initial observation comment about size. Thus, I modified an image for scaling the body against a measuring stick, which came to 13/16" (.8125"). At 20.64 mm, the spider is definitely in the large female size range. No peewee male here!

Dorsal Designs Galore!

The designs resemble a combination of stacked alien heads and loving cup handles similar to close-up near the top of the article. See if you agree.

This article (Part 1) is primarily an introduction to our Friday the 13th argiope aurantia spider visitor, primarily the fascination over the physical scenery. "Argiope Aurantia Spider--Part 2, Post-Friday 13th Observations" describes how the scenery changed or didn't change when we looked a mere 24 hours later. Although the post-Friday 13th pix are from Monday 16th, they actually reflect the scenery from mid-afternoon Saturday 14th until maybe early Friday 27th.

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