As a life-long arachnophobe, I find it very strange that I am fascinated by this lovely lady (Perhaps I’m unconsciously doing some amateur exposure therapy!). She has very graciously taken up residence just off our porch, allowing us to watch her re-spin her web every morning while enjoying our morning coffee.
Georgette is a yellow orb weaver spider, although she is known by many names: black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider; golden orb-weaver, writing spider, yellow garden argiope, yellow garden orb-weaver, corn spider, and zipper spider. Whatever name she goes by, she is one of the most striking spiders I’ve ever seen. The fact that she isn’t particularly hair or furry helps me get over the fear thing as I watch her.
Georgette starts her day before the sun comes up. When I came out this morning at 5:00, she was already running her anchor lines to start her new web. The web itself is around three feet in diameter; if you take the anchor lines into consideration, it is easily six feet across. She works so methodically: First the new anchor lines, then the spokes, which are non-sticky. She travels around the web on the spokes. After all her spokes are done, she starts in the center and weaves her sticky spiral outward. The spiral is what catches her prey.
Once she is done constructing her basic web she has one more thing to add: Her trademark “bling,” the thick, zigzagged stabilimentum in the center of the web. Here is a video of the massive amount of silk she uses to make it (Apologies for the background music):
A Well-Deserved Rest
After toiling nonstop for four to six hours, Georgette settles in on the stabilimentum and takes a nice nap in the warm afternoon sun. That is, unless an unfortunate little critter happens to stumble into her web. In that case, it’s time for a quick snack and then back to her nap.
Kind of Like “Groundhog Day”
Georgette will have basically the same routine all summer. During the night, she eats her web in order to recycle the silk proteins, and then before sunup she starts work on her new web.
In the fall, she will mate with a (much-smaller) male; it’s possible she will eat him when she’s done. Then she will lay her egg sacs and just like Charlotte, she’ll probably die with the first frost. After my not-so-fond memories of being overrun in my greenhouse with these spiders last year, we will probably move her egg sacs away from the house and let them hatch safely at the edge of the property. One orb weaver is a beautiful miracle of nature; several hundred? Not so much.