Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Black and Yellow Garden Spider - (Argiope aurantia)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/21/2015

The ubiquitous Black and Yellow Garden Spider is a steadfast sentinel, diligently guarding over our gardens.

Black and Yellow Garden Spiders are from the Argiope genus found throughout the United States of America and Canada. This species is not quite as common in the Rocky Mountain areas as they area everywhere else. The spider is easily identifiable by the distinctive yellow and black coloring found on the abdomen. The legs are equally noticeable by the alternating bands of orange and black on the legs, though this pattern may vary from spider to spider.

Females measure in larger than the males, almost four times bigger in fact. Besides being smaller, males do not promote their colors as such, and might appear a shade or two paler compared to the rich, bold colors on the female.

Webs produced by the Yellow Garden Spider are about knee-high off the ground in sunny, still areas of a garden. They are also distinct as some have a zig-zag type strand pattern called the stabilimentum running down the middle of their webs. Additionally, their webs are built as a spiral that builds out from the center; a classic feature of all Orbweaver spiders. These spiders sit on the web up-side-down with their heads closer to the ground. Their long, lean legs make them appear substantially large and intimidating to humans. If disturbed or threatened, this spider may immediately drop to the ground. It may also begin bouncing on its web in an effort to confuse a predator by making it difficult to get a clear target. Watch this bouncing behavior in slow motion here:

Black-and-Yellow Garden Spiders are also called the Common Garden Spiders or Yellow Garden Spiders in various publications. Whichever name used, spotting one of these spiders is quite a treat as their unique shape and striking colors add a bit of natural "punch" to your garden. They are commonly found throughout garden areas, parks and woodlands.

Adults are most visible during summertime. Females lay eggs in a papery brown sac which is attached to one side of her web and then eventually she dies. The eggs hatch in the fall, but the spiderlings stay in the egg sac over winter, finally leaving in the spring.

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Category: Spider
Common name: Black and Yellow Garden Spider
Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia
Other Names: Yellow Garden Spider, Common Garden Spider, Black and Yellow Argiope

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
     Order: Araneae
      Family: Araneidae
       Genus: Argiope
        Species: aurantia

Adult Size (Length): 5mm to 28mm (0.20in to 1.10in)

Identifying Colors: black, yellow, red, silver, orange, brown

Additional Descriptors: up-side-down, bands, stripes, venomous, helpful

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.