The Banded Garden Spider may be a natural compass as well as a pest-controller, giving people two reasons to keep them around in the garden.
This spider builds its orb-shaped web between plants in garden beds. It sits in the center of the spiral web with its body up-side-down, waiting for prey to ensnare itself in the web. It keeps its dark belly facing south, most likely in an effort to absorb solar heat, enabling it to stay active longer in cool weather. Colors vary between individuals. Some are reddish-brown with white bands, while other are black with yellow and white bands. They become darker as they mature. Legs are banded in colors similar to the head and abdomen. The abdomen is wide and round. Their furry carapace ('neck' region) is covered in silvery hairs.
This species, regardless of age, is most active from mid-summer to the region's first freeze. Males are half the size of females and can be found at the edge of a female's web before mating. Egg sacs are brown and paper-like with a flattened side making them look like little cauldrons. Females can deliver a moderately painful bite to humans if she is guarding eggs and feels threatened or disturbed. Eggs overwinter and spiderlings hatch in the spring.
They build their webs low to the ground in gardens, between tall grasses, or between shrubs. Like other members of the Orbweaver family, a zigzagged cluster of spider silk called a stabilimentum can be seen near the center of the web. This can increase visibility for those walking nearby.
Scientific Name: Argiope trifasciata
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 25mm (0.16in to 0.98in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Legs: Spiders have four pairs of legs and these are attached to the cephalothorax.
Pedipalps: Small appendages near the mouth used as taste and smell organs.
Cephalothorax: Contains eyes, head, mouthparts, and legs.
Abdomen: Contains various organs related to digestion, reproduction, and web-making.
Spinnerets: Used in the production of spider silk for fashioning webs or catching prey.
NOTE: Unlike insects, spiders have both an endoskeleton (internal) and exoskeleton (external).