Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)

19 08 2010

Here’s another shot at a different angle—even more menacing looking!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


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Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)

18 08 2010

This beautiful spider, Argiope aurantia, is commonly known as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, Banana Spider or Corn Spider. This common orb web spider (orb means the web is spun in a circle) is a female. Females are about an inch and a half long; males are about 3/4 inch long. And despite their menacing size and appearance, they are considered harmless to humans. Click here to learn more about this spider and how it builds its web to catch prey. Photographed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 8.15.2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Out came the rain and….

30 08 2008

didn’t wash the spider out! Pat’s web was gone early this morning. Then a little while later, despite the rain, she was spinning another one. The little white dots you see are water droplets. Today’s soggy, rainy day explains the somber gray background, of course. I shot the first photo right before I went out to lunch with a friend. The second photo was shot after I returned, and if you look closely, you’ll see Pat is wrapping up her freshly-caught lunch (a fly, I believe). Yum!

The backlighting makes her orange stripes just glow in these photos.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





How to frame a spider

27 08 2008

This window was to the left of a computer in my studio. I was sitting here, designing away, and glanced up to see this little spider (okay, not that little—about 1/2 inch, I’m guessing) smack dab in the middle of its web. Behind the spider is the wood shed with its asphalt shingle roof. I grabbed my camera and got this image right from my chair to show you exactly what I saw and to test the exposure.

Not exactly the best background for my lovely subject, that’s plain to see, so I needed to “reframe” the shot to add a green background. I climbed onto the desk on my knees and reframed the spider against the pine tree to the right of the shed.

By isolating it against a background with a pop of green, I got a nicer shot. I also shot this through the window, so I’m a little surprised it came out as well as it did!

I believe this is a Barn spider (Araneus cavaticus)—just like Charlotte, from Charlotte’s Web. Check this link here for a comparison.

In my quest to identify him (her?), I stumbled upon Frank Starmer’s site. Starmer is the Associate Dean for Learning Technologies at Duke University. He introduces us to Sasha, a garden orb spider. It’s a fun and fascinating read with a lot of information about spiders and some great photos of spiders doing what spiders are inclined to do! He also lists references and I found this one interesting—Why a garden spider does not get stuck in its own web, written by Ben Prins. I pondered that very same question a few days ago.

If you like spiders (and you should), spend some time on Frank’s site. He’s a font of information on spiders and clearly loves his subject.

Now, if I could figure out whether my spider is male or female, I could name it like Frank named Sasha. Or, I could go the Saturday Night Live route and just name it “Pat.”

Pat the spider. Then again, you better not. 😉

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

UPDATE: Thanks for the details on male vs. female in spiders, David. Read David’s comment on spider identification and habits. I figured it was an orb spider, but that other site had a spider on it that was very similar, which is why I thought it might be a barn spider. I just looked up “garden spider,” and it could be that as well. This Garden Orb Spider looks like mine and has the touch of reddish-orange on the legs, too. Then again, it might be the Neoscona crucifera. It could match several in the links you sent. Thanks for your help, David!





Resourcefulness in a very tiny package

6 08 2008

Here’s another (but probably not for long) unidentified critter in my backyard garden. I noticed a web being spun in the top of a tomato cage about a week or so ago. Next, in the middle of this highly intricate web appeared a curly cone-shaped dry leaf, suspended in mid-air like a tiny chandelier. Upon closer inspection, I saw a little spider hiding inside. This afternoon, just before the rains came, I caught him wrapping up a nice and tasty black ant, which he then lowered into the web “pantry” (to eat later, I suppose). My friend Jeff happened by after I got the shot and when I pointed out how strong the outer part of the web was, he informed me that spiders can vary the strength of their webs: stronger fibers for the outer walls and then sticky, lightweight skeins for the interior (for catching prey). That skill, combined with recycling a perfectly curled leaf as a protective home base, makes this a pretty resourceful creature, wouldn’t you agree? I couldn’t get any closer without damaging the web, and since he was so tucked into the leaf, I couldn’t see much detail to help identify it. To give you a sense of scale, the leaf is about 1/2 inch long. Any takers on this one? (And yes, I’ll still be offering prizes!) Dalogan? Care for another prize?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.