Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Argiope aurantia

We have a lot of spiders here. This is an old house, on the edge of town, with owners who don't go "above and beyond" in their yard maintenance. Generally we avoid getting bitten by being careful with our behavior when we encounter them. Pretty much, if it comes in the house it is fair game, but is very likely to be safe if it stays outside, even in the windows.

Occasionally it makes for a nice home school lesson.

I present for your enjoyment a picture of a lovely specimen of Argiope aurantia.

This is a female. Males are not so large nor so colorful. These are also referred to as the Common Garden Spider and the St. Andrews Cross Spider (because the way they tend to sit makes an X with their legs.) They are found all over North America and even as far south as Central America. They are not agressive and their bite is not dangerous.

Notice the thicker strips in her web? Those are called stabilimenta. Webs with stabilimenta tend to catch fewer insects, but get destroyed less by birds bungling into them. There was a web on the front porch before I dug out the ivy that had a very pronounced zig-zag stabilimenta through the middle. I doubt this is the same spider, though. 180 degrees around the house is a whole other world when you are a 2 inch arachnid.

My lovely doesn't have to worry much about birds flying into her web, being within an inch of our picture window. I imagine the lights at night draw insects to her. We have had tree frogs on our front porch taking advantage of similar conditions there.

To show the impressive size of my new pet (LOL) I took a pic with my fingers near her. Of course, there is glass between us. Harmless or not, I am not getting my digits this close without the glass.

I also took a pic trying to make her look like a 5 foot spider in a tree. It wasn't easy to get the focus to work, so it doesn't quite look right. It was fun anyway.

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