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The Black and Yellow Garden Spider

At work today, I was made aware that there was an Argiope aurantia that had spun her web between some of the perennials.  Every summer we have at least one of these beauties in the garden center.  Seeing one is not too startling when you know what you are looking for.  But about 15 years ago as I was bunching flowers in the field, I nearly walked into the web of this creature that is also known as The Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, or Corn Spider.  Right at face level.  Once I stopped hyperventilating, I looked at the intricacy of the web and I have been a fan of this arachnid ever since.  The zigzag pattern running down the center of the web is fascinating and there is controversy over what it is for.  It may be to alert non-insects that there is a large web there. I guess that’s possible, as this non-insect saw it when it was about three inches in front of my face. The female hangs out in the middle of the web, head down, smack in the middle of the zigzag pattern. 

In the photo above, note the white sac just below the spiders head.  It's a cricket.  It’s what’s for dinner for the Argiope aurantia.