Spiders are a big help in the garden, though gardeners may not relish walking into their webs. Garden spiders aren’t aggressive, and their bite isn’t harmful to humans. Some use webs to capture food by waiting for the vibrations of prey caught in the delicate strands. Others await prey by perching on vegetation in the garden. Female spiders sport the brightest coloring; most males are a dull brown and smaller than the females.
Marbled Orb Weaver
A beautiful spider with an orange body, a yellow abdomen and black markings, the marbled orb weaver (Araneus marmoreus) is a common garden spider. It builds a circular web freshly each day and hides at the perimeter to await its prey. The female is 1/2 to 3/4 inches long.
Yellow Garden Spider
Another orb weaver, the yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), has yellow-and-black markings, with striped yellow, black and orange legs. It is a large spider, usually an inch or more in length, and is known for its ability to spin complex web patterns anchored between branches and plant stems. The yellow garden spider usually hangs at the center of its web waiting for prey. The webs are strong enough to carry the weight of several insects at a time.
Yellow Crab Spider
The yellow crab spider (Misumenoides formosipes) is a yellow-orange color with black markings on its triangular abdomen and thick legs. It is about 1/2 inch long and is found on flower heads, where it sits waiting for prey. Crab spiders can change color to match the color of the flower they are on, commonly white, pink or gold. Crab spiders resemble crabs in both body shape and walking behavior.
Goldenrod Crab Spider
The most common crab spider in North America, also known as the flower spider, is the goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia). It is commonly found on flowers such as goldenrod and on white flowers. Its body is yellow with darker sides and orange-red markings on the abdomen, although it can change color to white to hide on white flowers. It is about 1/3 of an inch long, and feeds on flies and grasshoppers.