Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Spiderlady in the grasses...

Banded Garden Spider - Argiope trifasciata
Rick and I found this very colorful and artsy spider in the backyard yesterday afternoon. She is a Banded Garden Spider, but we just call her Spiderlady. She is formidable looking, but don't be afraid--she eats tons of insects and is harmless to humans. The first time I ever noticed one of these spiders was in 1990...the first autumn in our first house. That spider had spun a huge orbed web between two beautiful Chrysanthemum plants. It was also September, and I remember it very clearly because she gave me quite a fright--the kind of fright that causes the creep-out meter to run high, thus branding the image in your brain forever. Her bright yellow and black striped body was so well camouflaged I didn't see her until I was eye level and only about four inches from her abdomen. Yikes! I backed away quickly (I was on my knees planting something in a garden bed), but immediately came back to study her. I was amazed at her vibrant yellow color and the red spinnerets on her abdomen. I had no idea what kind of spider she was because I knew nothing about spiders, but I remember "red on the abdomen can't be good" went through my mind. Way back then the Internet wasn't quite as bloggy as it is today, so I couldn't just hop on and type "Ohio spider with a yellow, black and white striped body" in Google, but I did have a National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders (1980) and found the Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia) looked a lot like our spider. After hopping around on the Internet today, I think Spiderlady is a cousin of that first spider and is a Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata).

Hanging upside down, this female Banded Garden Spider is eye-catching--but only if you "see" her. I was standing about 4 feet from her web for a while before she finally materialized. The broken black bands of bright yellow, black and white on her abdomen are classic camouflage, and they really work.

Looking through the web to the underside of her abdomen you can see her red spinnerets.

Spiderlady waits for prey as she hangs upside down in the center of her web.

She really is an artsy little spider with beautiful markings, although little is probably not the right word. She's pretty big. The male is significantly smaller and not nearly as pretty.

...looking straight down on her.

...and let's go in for a close-up. She looks velvety soft and furry, but I don't think "cuddly" is going to come out of anyone's mouth!

Spiderlady takes the usual form of an X so that it looks like she has only four legs. You can also see the beginning of typical web decorations called stabilimenta.

I just went out to check on our Spiderlady and she's still there. I hope she stays around for a while. It would be cool to capture her spinning her prey up in silk.

27 comments:

Roy said...

I love those Banded Garden Spiders! We always had them in the bushes by our house when I was a kid in Maryland. I remember there used to be one pretty much every Summer in the bush outside my bedroom window. They're absolutely gorgeous.

eileeninmd said...

Awesome closeups of the spider and web. Well done!

rebeccainthewoods said...

AWESOME photos! I love Argiope spiders; I remember being deeply impressed when one took up residence in my parents' iris bed back when they still lived in Ohio. I took some photos of a pretty impressive spider lady of my own today that I'll probably post tomorrow...

Hilke Breder said...

Gorgeous images, Kelly. I was blown away! You have a great eye for seeing these things.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, Those are awesome photos for sure --but I cringe and chill all over when I see spiders.... SO---It's good that you put pictures on here for people like me to enjoy ---from a distance...ha ha

Hugs,
Betsy

Marie said...

Oh Kelly, these photos are amazing! I have an odd, somewhat unrelated question tho': how do you get your images so big on your blog page? They are that much more striking at this size. Jealous!

Idaho Birder said...

Awesome!

Caroline said...

Fab! Love the furry close up! Cuddly - not!

Jayne said...

Isn't she just so cool? What great shots Kelly!

laubaine said...

elle est trés belle

ShySongbird said...

A very impressive creature, Kelly but I wouldn't want to be her prey :)

Out on the prairie said...

I have some shots of one in some recent posts, you identified it right.I was shooting some buckeye butterflies and one flew over into it's web. Luckily a grasshopper was getting wrapped and it got free. It was so dense I wouldn't have found it if that hadn't happened.It is fun to see how common names change with regions and countries.I enjoy watching them walk the web, each leg is always touching.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Kelly, this is an amazing series on this spider! Such detail!

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful series! Nice close-up views of her. I'm not fond of spiders, but she's truly beautifully marked.

Roy said...

Wow! fantastic macros Kelly.

Warren Baker said...

I'm not the worlds greatest spider lover Kelly. However, this one i'll make exceptions for, a beautiful little arachnid :-)

PS I hope you get some of that wet stuff soon !!!

holdingmoments said...

Amazing close ups Kelly.

Jenny said...

Fantastic photos of this beautiful spider Kelly. Can you give an approximation of size tip to toe? Just curious! I hope you manage to get some further shots.

Elaine said...

Fantastic photos! You are getting really good with this macro stuff.

Margaret Bednar said...

..."the creep-out meter to run high"
Oh that is funny and will remain in my dictionary forever. She is beautiful and I would love to think I wouldn't destroy her. She does kill other little nasties... Wonderful photos!

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. Amazing what you find when you get down on your hands and knees! Fabulous close ups of this very colourful arachnid. FAB.

Angela said...

Oh my gosh! I am glad you found my site so I could find yours. I love your pictures but I have a sad story. I to had a yellow garden spider but it was an Alabama Garden spider. Looked the same as yours. I watched her for days or even weeks and one day I went out and she was gone. I ask my husband what happened to my beautiful garden spider and he said "I was cleaning out the spider bed and I got rid of that ugly spider" I was so upset. I really had enjoyed looking at her as the sight of her demanded a closer look. No garden spiders have returned to my place since. Thanks for sharing yours.

Mary said...

Wow...wonderful macro shots! I can remember these spiders always putting their webs on our tomato plants when I was a child and I hated to have to pick the tomatoes unless I could chase the spider away....now I would be taking photos of it like you did :-) They are pretty and I had never seen all the details of their bodies before.

Chad said...

Each time I see one of these I think about how vicious they look and wonder why they are not deadly! They sure look like they should be. I love when you tickle their web and they start to bounce. Amazing shots!

Margaret said...

...so funny. Perusing your blog with my girls and we are making a second comment here. My one daughter said she would take pictures and then crush it. I would just want her to "move on"...

Matt said...

I just took a photo of an identical spider today! Even had the little web decorations like you described. Very Cool!

Matt said...

I just took macro shots of an identical spider! What a beauty, but awfully scary looking. She even had the same web decorations as you described! Thanks for posting.