By Pat Rowland
ED: You may have seen this spider around your house. Today’s blog post is a timely reprint of an essay by Pat Rowland, originally published in the Featherless Flyer in December, 2007, and the photo is by Kay Karns, taken at the Refuge..
One of my favorite spiders is the Garden Spider (Argiope). This past summer one made her home around my house from August until early November. During this time she ate numerous flying insects plus bonus crickets that I provided when mowing the yard. She moved and laid egg sacs at three different locations until early November.
The following information came from an article by Valerie in Garden Bits (http://home.att.net~larvalbugrexc/argiope.html). The largest orb weaver in our gardens is the black and yellow Argiope. The female is the large spider seen on the web. The males are much smaller and may be seen hanging out close by. Spiders are capable of creating as many as seven different kinds of silk using several different glands that supply the spinnerets. The silk coming out of the spinnerets can vary from an extremely fine single line sued in creating the web to wide ribbons used for subduing prey or making the central design on the web.
In order to grow, spiders must periodically shed their exoskeletons. This is when they are most vulnerable to predators. Just before laying eggs, the female spider is often quite large and her abdomen distended. Argiopes produce large numbers of young in their egg sacs. A female may lay one or several egg sacs in a season. The young spiders hatch in the fall but overwinter in the egg case. The Argiopes live only one year, expending all their energy producing eggs. Once winter arrives, they die.
ED: Don’t miss Dr. Steve Goldsmith’s presentation on Insects, 10 a.m., Saturday Sept. 11, for Second Saturday at Hagerman NWR. For more information on the programs and activities of Friends of Hagerman, see http:www.friendsofhagerman.com. To visit the official Refuge website, see http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/index.html.