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.