What is BIG, Yellow & Black, and Scary? (to some)
This being the first day of school in our area, you might have answered that question by saying the school bus! But my riddle refers to the Yellow and Black Argiope spider, more correctly known as the Black & Yellow Argiope, an orb weaver.
I discovered this beauty last week. I was about to pull the dried day lily stems from the sides of my driveway when I came across this splendid spider. Wow! Pretty impressive. What kind is this? I wondered. The stems can wait; I hated to disturb it.
Getting out my trusty Audubon Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, I found my mystery spider was a female Black & Yellow Argiope. They are fairly common, although I had never seen one before. The guide said the males were small, 1/4" to 3/8"; the females are much larger, 3/4" to 1 1/8", so mine was a biggie.
I thought it would be fun to keep an eye on what she was up to so I would check on her daily. The next day I say she had caught a grasshopper and wrapped it up for future use. She also dined on a yellow-jacket a few days later.
While trying to get some closeups of Mrs. Spider, I found she quick as a wink could switch sides of her web. At first I thought I was seeing things, but she managed to slip through her web to sit on the opposite side faster than my eye could see. I remembered from studying spiders during my homeschool days that spiders did not get hung up on their sticky webs, as she so adeptly demonstrated.
I also remembered spiders had several different spinnerets, so to speak, on their web spinning orifice. The food storage web is a different type web material than the web itself, for example. The heavier zig-zag web was made by the male, according to my Audubon guide: "Male builds web in outlying part of female's web, making a white zig-zag band vertically across the middle."
Some people might look at a spider as just an object of horror. (Obviously I don't suffer from arachnophobia.) I look at the spider and its intricacies and marvel at its design and the Designer who created it. Just look at their spinneret organ and think about that happening by accident.
Sadly, my Mrs. Spider was nowhere to be found yesterday, nor have I been able to locate Mr. I will check on them again today. I did notice a new web nearby with a new Yellow and Black, this one a tan variation. For more information, check out what the Bug Guide has to say. They have many great photos of the color variations.
Now if you are brave enough, take a look at the Black & Yellow in action. Relax, they are not aggressive and rarely bite.