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This large spider is commonly found near houses and in gardens. The small cephalothorax (“head”) is tipped with silver hairs, and the slightly oval abdomen is patterned with yellow (sometimes orange) and black. A black midstripe with four white spots in the center marks the top of the abdomen. The legs are black with yellow-orange stripes. The upper portion of the legs is more solidly colored orange-yellow. The circular webs can be approximately 2 feet in diameter, and the spider can be found resting head-down at the hub, where a zigzag silk band, the stabilimentum, extends vertically at the center. Males are quite small and are rarely noticed. Young females have a narrower abdomen, generally lack the yellow coloration and have conspicuous black and white striping on their legs.
These spiders build their webs in gardens and in grassy areas near houses. They are also typically found in tall grasslands. Individual spiders take up residence in a particular area and tend to stay there all season. When disturbed, this species often causes its web to vibrate: The bouncing movement makes it harder for predators to get a fix on them. Alternatively, if the disturbance is from a trapped insect, the motion causes the prey to get more entangled.
This female garden spider made her web in our backyard peach tree and found a nice tasty treat!