Argiope aurantia, is one of three local species of argiope orb weavers. The female golden garden spider measures 0.67 inches (17 mm). Its abdomen has two anterior bumps; the top is black with large yellow spots or patches; the carapace is silvery to yellowish-white with brown markings; the sternum is black with white stripe down the middle. The smaller male measures 0.24 inches (6 mm). The top of the abdomen is black with a pair of light stripes running lengthwise; the carapace is brownish with white setae.
Range and Habitat
This species ranges from Washington to Nova Scotia, south to Guatemala and Baja California. It can be found in coastal areas of San Diego County.
Golden garden spiders have an annual life cycle with males maturing in July and August and females maturing from August to October. In late fall, the mature female lays her eggs, and the hatchlings overwinter in an egg sac. In spring, they emerge and disperse.
These spiders build their webs in herbaceous plants in open habitats such as fields and gardens. A web may reach a diameter of two feet, with a zigzag pattern of silk in the center. This pattern strengthens the structure of the web, camouflages the spider, and may help attract insects.
The female golden garden spider sits in the center of the web during the day, holding her abdomen upward and aiming her eyes and mouth-parts downward. She places her legs together in pairs, which gives the appearance of four instead of eight legs. When disturbed, she vibrates the silk orb to appear larger and more threatening. If that doesn't frighten away the intruder, she drops to the ground and hides.
The male spider usually builds a smaller web at the outer edge of the female's. He waits there until the female is receptive to mating.
In late fall, the mature female lays her eggs and the hatchlings overwinter in an egg sac. In spring, they emerge and disperse.
Related and Similar Species
Argiope argentata has an abdomen with lateral bulges and does not have large yellow spots.
ReferencesDondale, C.D., J.H. Redner, P. Paquin, and H.W. Levi. 2003. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 23. The orb-weaving spiders of Canada and Alaska (Araneae: Uloboridae, Tetragnathidae, Araneidae, Theridiosomatidae). NRC Research Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 371pp.
Levi, H.W. 1968. The spiders genera Gea and Argiope in America (Araneae: Araneidae). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 136(9):319-352