A few weeks ago a young female Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) found her way through our warehouse and shop into our office. We first noticed her and her web to the right of our 130 gallon display tank. She has since moved to the other end, probably because one end of web was anchored to a projector that occasionally gets moved when needed at a presentation.
In the photo she is sitting in the center of her web, which doesn’t show up against the white wall behind her. At the moment of the photo, she was just beginning to eat an unfortunate grasshopper that Ashley, our hatchery technician, had thrown into her web a few minutes before. The spider had quickly wrapped it in webbing and dispatched it with a quick paralyzing bite. After pulling the wrapped spider to the center of the web she sat down for a meal.
This species is very common around the farm. Some females have good locations and get about 4 inches in leg span. Good locations are where a lot of grasshoppers flying and hopping. Females in good condition lay several silk covered egg cases that will over winter and produce the next generation in the spring. This particular female hasn’t eaten that well and is only about 2.5 inches in leg span, but Ashley plans to feed it a grasshopper daily to fatten it up.
How do I know it’s a female? Males are much smaller. They tend to hang out on the edges of females webs, hoping to mate with her rather than providing her a meal.