Yellow Field Spider/Orb Weaver
The Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope Aurantia) is a species of circular web-building arachnid known as the Orb Weaver (Araneidae family).
The females of the species can be identified by their bright yellow bodies with yellow, black and/or gray bands along the body and legs and large, oval-shaped abdomen. The male can be identified by their pale colors (varies from black and pale yellow to a brownish-red), smaller abdomen and overall size.
While in their youth, these spiders can easily be hunted by other creatures, including other spiders (such as the Jumping Spider) and wasps. However, once they reach adulthood, the females’ size may deter like-sized creatures from attacking. The only creature(s) that pose a threat to the spider while remaining a source of food are wasps. It’s eat or be eaten between the two creatures.
These spiders, as mentioned before, will eat most insects that get trapped in their webs including wasps. They’ll also hunt some species of vertebrate like anoles and geckos. Prey caught in their web will be injected with venom and wrapped in webbing/silk so it can consume its prey later.
Despite popular belief, most spiders don’t just consume the juices/innards of their prey, but actually eat most of the creatures body. The muscle and organs provide protein for the weaver so it can grow big and healthy.
The weavers’ venom isn’t strong enough to pose a threat to people unless they have a weakened/compromised immune system, being similar to that of a bee sting (Swelling, itchiness, stinging).
Most weavers prefer to hide in areas where the wind doesn’t blow against their web, but they require a spot where prey will be nearby. They’ll commonly choose to live in gardens between two plants or in a corner, hidden away from wind and predators. They’ll occasionally climb off of their web and roam around the area to find food, but you’ll rarely see this since their web dwelling/hanging spiders.
You’ll notice that, in the main picture, there’s a pattern in the middle of the webbing that’s known as a stabilimentum. Its use has not been fully discovered yet, but there’s a possibility that it uses the stabilimentum for camouflage, to attract prey or to warn larger creatures that its web is hanging there.
You’ll also notice that the spider almost always faces down while hanging in the center of its web. This position is used while waiting for prey to get trapped in its webbing, but it could also let the spider freely drop from its web to escape predators.
Yellow Field Weavers commonly breed in the fall. The male will try to find a female and build a web nearby once he finds one. He lowers himself down to her web, plucking off pieces of her web to court her. He leaves a strand of webbing behind in case she chooses to attack him. After the mating process has been finished, the male will die, in which the female may eat his remains. The female will produce one to four egg sacs, which are wrapped in two layers of clear/white silk and one layer of protective brownish silk, with each one holding up to one-thousand eggs.
The female will then form the sac into a ball with an upturned neck. The ball commonly ranges from 5/8″ to 1″ in size. She hangs the sac near the middle of her web to protect it from predators.
Once winter starts to hit, she slowly grows weak and frail, and eventually dies by the first hard frost. The sac remains protected from the elements by the brown layer of silk, and her offspring will leave the sac in the spring. They’re minuscule at this point and will look like little pieces of dust or dirt hanging on the web. Some spiderlings will stay, some will produce webbing and fly off in the breeze, carrying them off to a new home.
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