One morning I was hiking here…
When I looked up and saw this…
She was BIG! (And what a loot — I counted more than 25 trapped flies.) No, I did not have to examine the spider up close to determine the sex. The argiope silver female is much bigger than the male. Beside her, he is a dwarf. She has more interesting coloration as well. This spider is an orbweaver and the web is easily identified with its conspicuous zigzagging white silk banner; this decoration is called stabilimento–as seen on zooming. The spider’s body looks similar to a seashell.
Orbweavers are busy workers. Many of them rebuild their webs every morning. They also keep their eye on the prize. If a flying insect (moths, butterflies, flies, etc.) are caught in the web, they are bitten quickly once trapped so they don’t get away. Other prey, bugs that can’t easily flee, are wrapped in silk before they’re bitten. The silver argiope is not particular about mealtime. Mosquitoes, grasshoppers, flies, moths, and any other critter small enough to get trapped will do.
I’m not a spider fan, but with the Zika virus and other nasty bugs being passed along by mosquitoes, it’s nice to have a critter around that likes to eat them. The silver argiope is not a pest, not endangered, and not a threat. Though the spider will bite if threatened, the bite is not generally serious unless the victim is a very young child or older adult.
I only stood beneath the web long enough to take a photo, however, just in case she didn’t like my looks.