The black and yellow argiope (argiope aurantia), commonly called the yellow garden spider or golden garden spider, can be identified by a pattern of yellow dots on its black back. A member of the orb weaver family of spiders, the yellow garden spider lives in temperate climates from southern Canada to Central America and is not considered poisonous to humans.
The Yellow Garden Spider: An Orb-Weaving Spider
Like other types of orb-weaving spiders, the yellow garden spider weaves a circular, symmetrical web which traps insects as large as grasshoppers and wasps. Although male yellow garden spiders weave small webs, females maintain larger, more complex webs which also shelter egg sacs containing between 300 and 1,400 eggs. These eggs typically hatch in the fall.
Life Cycle of the Yellow Garden Spider
Yellow garden spiders typically live a year or less in their normal habitat. Averaging between 19 and 22 mm (3/4 to 1 inch) in length, the female is considerably larger than the male, which averages 5 to 9 mm (1/4 to 3/8 inch) long. After laying eggs, females typically die before the first hard frost, but in captivity these spiders have lived for several years.
Yellow Garden Spider Habitat
The yellow garden spider, like other types of argiope, flourishes in temperate climates with woodlands and grasses. These spiders are frequently found in gardens and other cultivated areas where rainfall is regular throughout North America and as far south as Costa Rica. Like those of other orb-weaving spiders, their webs can become elaborate structures capable of trapping relatively large prey such as moths and wasps.
Yellow Garden Spider and Its Prey
Like other types of orb-weaver spiders, the yellow garden spider has poor vision and uses vibration and tension in the web to find trapped prey there. Although this spider has venom and can bite when disturbed or threatened, it is not considered dangerous to humans or animals, and reactions to its bite are mild.