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.
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.
...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.