Other Common Names
Black and Yellow Argiope - from Spiders & Their Kin, Herbert & Lorna Levi, 1968, and Levi, H. W. (1968a) The spider genera Gea and Argiope in America (Araneae: Araneidae) Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 136: 319-352.
Golden Orb-weaver (California) - see forum discussion
Yellow Garden Spider
Yellow Garden Orbweaver
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Argiope aurantia Lucas
female: 14-25 mm
male: 5-6 mm (sizes do not include legs)
Stabilimentum (reinforced area) in web makes a vertical zigzag band above and below the middle of the web. Juveniles make a circular stabilimentum in the center of the web.
The normal colors are black and yellow
Much of temperate North America: southern Canada, through most of the lower 48 states. Also found south through Mexico to Costa Rica. Uncommon in parts of Rocky Mountains, Great Basin.
Noted most in late summer and early fall, when large females are found in webs.
...which produce masses of spiderlings:
though sometimes they are parasitized:
An immature will camouflage itself in the stabilimentum, an area of heavy silk:
The spiders, both immature
hang head down in their webs
which have that familiar zigzag pattern
To grow they must shed their exoskeleton: Richard's fabulous
VJ talks about how they vibrate their webs, testing for captured prey?
Sometimes they lose legs, but can regenerate them:
And then it's time for the cycle to close, with the female preparing her egg case:
Despite bright colors this spider is not a danger to humans. It is very unlikely to bite unless severely provoked, and in that case the bite would be probably no worse than a bee sting.
Closeup of palps - male reproductive organs:
Images with male and female for comparison:
Jackman, pp. 75-76, plate 9 (1)
Marshall and Edwards, p. 40 (3)
Animal Diversity Web
an extensive article from the University of Michigan