Sunday, August 23, 2009

Argiope aurantia

While walking near my large compost pile by the side of the house (where we place most of our leaves, grass clippings, and other lawn refuse as compared to the smaller bin for kitchen stuff and newspaper), I nearly ran into this beauty:

(Wow, that sounded Steve Irwin-y)

I'm not really squeamish about spiders, just a wee bit nervous about getting bitten, and my past knowledge has led me to believe that the smaller, less colorful innocuous ones are the ones you should worry about more (eg. brown recluse).

This particular spider was HUGE. It was web was at least 2 feet in diameter and was 2 inches from front leg to back leg tip.

Going under the assumption that this was a typical garden spider I easily came upon it on wikipedia: Argiope aurantia. Or simply a Golden Orb Weaver.

The dense zigzag in the middle of the web is hypothesized to be a stabilizer of sorts for the spider to reside in while it waits for its prey or it meant to hide the spider from flying insects.

Another cool thing is that it eats its web every morning potentially to recycle silk spinning materials and eat any tiny insects it might have missed for nutrition.

I want a house I can eat! (No gingerbread jokes now!)

Though pretty common, but it's not often to see such a large specimen. Down here (ok, for many people) it seems like the mindset is to destroy every spider and snake visible, which is a huge pity. I am proponent of creating a balanced ecosystem and once everyone is settled and happy I am hoping that everything will go as clockwork, be balanced and etc unless great catastrophic weather events screw things up, or I manage to over neem somehow.

Sadly this spider, noting its bright coloration and size means that it is a female and will die in the winter, but with luck it will leave some babies behind to manage my future aggravations.


A Home Made said...

Random note to either make you more comfortable around the average spider or more worried....

Technically... all spiders are poisonous. In fact, I think that the daddy long-legs is supposed to be the most poisonous spider in the world (could be wrong on that point).. but the reason we're worried about the brown recluse and the black widow and such is that most spiders (including the daddy long legs) don't have the capacity to break human skin and most don't aren't poisonous enough to do much.. minus spiders such as the black widow and brown recluse which can both break the skin and are poisonous enough to affect humans.

So that beauty there is poisonous... but not a threat to humans most likely. Lucky for that spider it's not in our backyard. Dave has a "leg" rule. If the legs are longer than the body it gets smushed... and either lucky for us or unlucky for us we have plenty of spiders to nondiscriminately smush without any worry of not having spiders around.

But anyways. Great picture! And awesome coloring

persephone said...

Yea, I think I do recall wiki saying that it was poisonous to plenty of its prey but makes no effort to bite humans it seems, preferring rather to drop from its web and hide when threatened. I don't mind them outside, and we even have a couple of house spiders we leave alone because they stay there and don't bother us and have seen little bugs in their webs, so they're doing good.

It's a kind of Greek thing to leave spiders around. Reminds me of the Greek myth of Ariadne? You familiar?

persephone said...

Oy, I meant Arachne. That makes more sense. So many good myths.

Dave@The Home Garden said...

Very neat spider! We had one similar to it a couple years ago but haven't seen one since. Spiders are welcome here in our garden, except for the two dangerous ones in TN.