What type of spider is this? VA, USA

What type of spider is this? VA, USA

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Spider found in Richmond, VA. Can anyone identify?

Sure, I can identify this for you!

That is an Argiope Aurantia, most commonly known as a "Yellow Garden Spider". They're quite well known for the design of the webs they spin, and because of this, they also go by "Sewing Spider" and "Writing Spider". They may try to bite if startled (which can be easy to do), but their venom is harmless to humans, so no worries.

What type of spider is this? VA, USA - Biology

Not so taxonomist and arachnologist Rebecca Godwin, who holds a 2020 doctorate in entomology from the University of California, Davis and just published a comprehensive taxonomic revision of the New World members of the trapdoor spider genus, Ummidia.

In a nearly 10-year project that encompassed 800 specimens from 16 natural history museums throughout the world (including the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis), she updated the descriptions of the 20 known New World spiders, and described 33 new species.

&ldquoThis study, along with many others conducted utilizing museum collections, is indicative of the importance of natural history collections and their usefulness in discovering unknown biodiversity,&rdquo said Godwin, who joined the faculty of Piedmont University, Demorest, Ga., last August as an assistant professor of biology.

Ummidia are medium-sized trapdoor spiders that construct silk-lined burrows, usually with cork-type doors. Their burrows, often covered with leaf litter, are difficult to find.

&ldquoThe revision was an undertaking,&rdquo Godwin said. &ldquoI first started working on it almost ten years ago, but it was really only scratching the surface of the stories these spiders have to tell.&rdquo

Her major professor, Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, co-authored the paper, &ldquoTaxonomic Revision of the New World Members of the Trapdoor Spider Genus Ummidia Thorell (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Halonoproctidae),&rdquo published April 2 in ZooKeys.

Importance of Taxonomy
"The Ummidia revision really highlights the importance of taxonomic work and typifies the large number of arthropod species that remain to be described, even in North America,&rdquo Bond said. &ldquoIn many instances, taxonomic work alone stands between a species being lost to both extinction and obscurity, particularly in light of the current human driven wave of mass extinction. As such, one could argue that never before has the discipline been so important it is impossible to &lsquosave,' conserve, and/or inventory undiscovered species.&rdquo

Godwin's &ldquorichly descriptive taxonomic monographs represent important, hypothesis-driven science,&rdquo Bond said. &ldquoRebecca started her work with a collection of specimens and then postulated tests of what constituted the limits of a species where in the hierarchy of life that species is placed and what homologous characters support her hypotheses."

At the onset of the UC Davis research, the number of described species in the genus, plus one subspecies, totaled 27. Of that initial number, 20 were considered New World species or in the Western hemisphere (the Americas.) The distribution ranged from North America and South America to Asia, Northern Africa and Europe.

&ldquoI am continually blown away by how little we know about what is out there living on this planet with us,&rdquo Godwin commented. &ldquoI think that anytime we can learn more about the organisms we share this planet with, it's a valuable endeavor. Most people don't even realize they are sharing their space with these spiders, literally right under their feet&mdashnot to mention the fact that these spiders tend to have very limited ranges and have very low dispersal. They can be winked out of existence without our ever knowing they were here, and I find that kind of heartbreaking.&rdquo

&ldquoAdditionally, I think Ummidia is a fascinating group for evolutionary and population dynamic studies,&rdquo Godwin said. &ldquoWithin a single genus there are the &lsquotraditional' extremely non-vagile species sympatric with species that appear to have mastered ballooning, potentially giving them much greater dispersal capabilities.&rdquo

Godwin said that &ldquothere are incredibly small species living alongside relatively quite large species. Is this dwarfism? Paedomorphism? Are there potentially sneaker males at work? We know so little about the actual life history and behavior of these spiders and how it might be varying from species to species.&rdquo

Five Countries
The authors examined trapdoor specimens from natural history museums in five countries&mdashUnited States, Mexico, Italy, England, Germany and Colombia. Within the United States, they researched collections from 10 states: New York, California, Ohio, Colorado, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Virginia.

&ldquoUmmidia is a wide-ranging genus, found in the southwestern Mediterranean, Central Asia, and in the Americas from as far north as Ohio and Maryland west to Arizona and south to Brazil, including the Greater and Lesser Antilles,&rdquo they wrote.

Ballooning, a behavior that distinguishes some Ummidia, &ldquofacilitates the dispersal of individuals over geographic features that would otherwise serve as barriers to gene flow,&rdquo they noted.

&ldquoAlthough species of Ummidia are very widespread and occur in a number of habitats, they tend to be very patchy in their distribution,&rdquo they wrote. &ldquoThis, paired with the highly cryptic nature of their burrows, make them very difficult to collect, and so by necessity this revision is based almost entirely on historic rather than newly collected material. Much of this material was amassed from a number of collectors and institutions by the late Dr. Willis Gertsch, who spent over 40 years working on a revision of the group. Gertsch never published his work on Ummidia prior to his passing in 1999, but his notes and correspondence, stored in the archives of the American Museum of Natural History proved useful and insightful in the completion of this work.&rdquo

Godwin, citing the difficulty of revising the morphologically homogenous group, quoted Gertsch in one of his writings: &ldquoThis is the most difficult ctenizid genus I know with such feeble, variable, erratic, aberrant characters that I find myself uncertain as to. what is a species.&rdquo

Research Funding
The Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowment primarily funded the trapdoor spider research. Godwin also received a $2000 Auburn University Museum of Natural History Collection Improvement Grant in 2015 and a $500 Auburn University Graduate School Research Fellowship in 2015-2016.

Godwin's research on trap spiders won high honors in graduate student competitions at the 2019 American Arachnological Society (AAS) meeting, held in Lexington, Va., and the 2018 Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, held in Vancouver, BC. She won first place in the AAS student poster competition, and second in the ESA President's Prize graduate student competition.

Godwin holds two degrees from Auburn University: a bachelor's degree in zoology (2004) and her master's degree in wetland biology (2011). She began her doctoral studies at Auburn University in 2014, and transferred to UC Davis in 2018 when Bond, her major professor, accepted his UC Davis position.

At Piedmont University, Godwin teaches a number of biology classes, including introductory biology and invertebrate zoology. Her main research interests include the phylogenetics, taxonomy, and systematics of trapdoor spiders.

She is also keenly interested in science communication. &ldquoI have a true passion for effectively communicating science both with students in the classroom as well as with the public,&rdquo she said. &ldquoI believe that effective science communication at all levels and societal science literacy are crucial to create an informed society.&rdquo

What type of spider is this? VA, USA - Biology

The ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius), was considered a nuisance ant that was occasionally important as a house pest within Florida as late as 1988. Field populations were confined to South Florida, although active colonies had been reported as far north as Gainesville, in Alachua County (Bloomcamp and Bieman, personal communication) and Duval County, (Mattis et al. 2004). But by 1995, if not before, the ghost ant was common in central and southern Florida and had been elevated to major pest status (Klotz et al. 1995). In more northerly states, infestations are confined to greenhouses or other buildings that provide conditions necessary for survival, as the ant is a tropical species either of African or Oriental origin (Wheeler 1910). However, this introduced ant species is so widely distributed by commerce that it is impossible to determine its original home (Smith 1965).

Figure 1. Worker of the ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius), lateral view. Photograph by Philip Bernie (used with permission).

Distribution (Back to Top)

The ghost ant is associated with a complex of ant species known as "tramp ants" that is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical latitudes worldwide. In fact, Tapinoma melanocephalum was once referred to simply as the "tramp ant." Colonies of Tapinoma melanocephalum are reported from such isolated locations as the Galapagos Islands (Clark et al. 1982). In temperate latitudes, the ghost ant is reported established in greenhouses and other buildings with favorable conditions, even as far north as Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where a colony nested in an apartment block on the Assiniboine River (Ayre 1977). Ghost ant populations and infestations are reported in many areas of the United States, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.

In the United States, the ghost ant is well established in Florida and Hawaii, and its range is expanding. The ant reached Texas in 1994 or 1995, probably through Galveston on a shipment of plants from Florida (Chenault 1997). In the northern states, it can only survive in greenhouses and other heated environments (Smith and Whitman 1992).

In Florida, the ghost ant is mostly found from Sarasota to Orlando and south, although it does occur as far north as Gainesville in Alachua County (Beauchamp 1997, Klotz et al. 1995), and Duval County (Mattis et al. 2004).

A survey conducted with Florida structural pest control employees to determine the kinds of ants and types of ant problems confronted in both commercial and household pest control revealed that eight species of ants were identified as key pests in Florida. Of these, the most common were the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, the ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum, (Fabricius) and the crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille). Each species comprising 14% of the samples submitted (Klotz et al. 1995).

Description (Back to Top)

Ghost ant workers are extremely small, 1.3 to 1.5 mm long, and monomorphic (one-sized). They have 12-segmented antennae with the segments gradually thickening towards the tip. Antennal scapes surpass the occipital border. Head and thorax are a deep dark brown with gaster and legs opaque or milky white (Creighton 1950). The thorax is spineless.

Figure 2. Ghost ant worker, lateral view. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.

Figure 3. Worker of the ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius), dorsal view. Photograph by J.L. Castner, University of Florida.

The gaster (swollen part of abdomen) has a slit-like anal opening which is hairless. (Smith and Whitman 1992). The abdominal pedicel (stalk-like structure immediately anterior to the gaster) consists of one segment which is usually hidden from view dorsally by the gaster (Creighton 1950). Stingers are absent.

The small size, combined with the pale color, make ghost ant workers hard to see (Smith and Whitman 1992).

Biology and Behavior (Back to Top)

The ghost ant is highly adaptable in its nesting habits. It nests readily outdoors or indoors. Colonies may be moderate to large in size containing numerous reproducing females (polygyny). Generally, the colonies occupy local sites that are too small or unstable to support entire large colonies. The sites include tufts of dead but temporarily moist grass, plant stems, and cavities beneath detritus in open, rapidly changing habitats (Oster and Wilson 1978). Indoors, the ant colonizes wall void or spaces between cabinetry and baseboards. It will also nest in potted plants (Smith and Whitman 1992). Thus, the colonies are broken into subunits that occupy different nest sites and exchange individuals back and forth along odor trails (Oster and Wilson 1978). Hölldobler and Wilson (1990) report that ghost ants are opportunistic nesters in places that sometimes remain habitable for only a few days or weeks

Multiple queens may be spread out in multiple subcolonies. Usually, nesting occurs in disturbed areas, in flowerpots, under objects on the ground, under loose bark, and at the bases of palm fronds. Indoors, the ant nests in small spaces such as cracks, spaces between books, or wall voids. Indoor foragers often come from outside. This is a very common pest inside homes (Ferster et al. 2002).

New colonies are probably formed by budding. This occurs when one or more reproductive females, accompanied by several workers and possibly some brood (larvae and pupae) leave an established colony for a new nesting site. There does not appear to be any infighting between members of different colonies or nests (Smith and Whitman 1992).

The nesting habits of the ghost ant are similar to that of the Pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus) (Smith and Whitman 1992).

Workers have the habit of running rapidly and erratically when disturbed. They are fond of honeydew and tend honeydew-excreting insects. They also feed on both dead and live insects (Smith 1965). When workers are found trailing, their movement is more slow and deliberate. On close inspection some trailing workers can be seen carrying brood (larvae and pupae) (Ferster et al. 2002). They will enter structures from nests near foundations or from plants that contact the building (Smith and Whitman 1992).

In Costa Rica, jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) were found living within nests of Tapinoma melanocephalum located on the undersides of leaves. The basis of this relationship appears to be symbiotic. The spiders provide the ants with protection from predators and parasites, while the ant nest is used as a foundation for web construction (Shepard and Gibson 1972).

Economic Importance (Back to Top)

This species is a household pest. In Florida, it is considered one of the most important of such ant pests. The ghost ant can not only invade houses from outside, but they can nest in the house as well. Although the ant feeds upon many household foods, it seems to show a preference for sweets, having been observed feeding on sugar, cakes, and syrups (Smith 1965). Outside, the workers scavenge for dead insects and tend sap-sucking insects, collecting honeydew (Ferster et al. 2002).

In Florida, the ghost ant has infested quarantine greenhouses where they have proven impossible to control due to the restrictions imposed on the use of toxicants in these greenhouses. In more northern areas, it has become established in heated greenhouses where it can become a problem, especially if it defends honeydew producing plant pests against introduced biological control organisms.

In coastal Venezuela, the ghost ant was found to be the primary predator of the eggs of Rhodnius prolixus, the vector of Chagas' disease. This effective predaceous activity on Rhodnius prolixus populations by Tapinoma melanocephalum may account for the absence of Rhodnius prolixus associated diseases from this area of Venezuela (Gomez-Nunez 1971).

In Gainesville, the ant preyed upon small beetle larvae and lepidopterous larvae from the cultures of insects in quarantine. The ant is also reported as a significant predator of the twospotted mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch, in greenhouses (Osborne et al. 1995).

Detection (Back to Top)

The ant is easily recognized due to its peculiar color markings and small size. Foragers are seen in kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors. When crushed, the workers emit an odor similar to that of rotten coconuts (Smith 1965).

The ghost ant is in the same genus as the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile (Say). However, the ghost ant is smaller and colored differently since the odorous house ant is entirely dark brown to black.

The Pharaoh ant is also similar to this species but the ghost ant only has one node on its pedicel compared to two on the pedicel of the Pharaoh ant. Other bi-colored, one-node ants either tend to be much larger or the node on the pedicel is visible from above (Smith and Whitman 1992).

Management (Back to Top)

The best approach to ant control in the home is cleanliness. Any type of food or food particles can attract and provide food for ants. Store food in tight containers. Remove plants that can attract ants or control aphids, whiteflies and other insects that produce honeydew. Reduce moisture sources, including condensation and leaks (Koehler et al. 2007).

If possible, follow the trails of this species back to the nest and treat the nest. If treating the trails with bait check within one or two days to see if the ants are feeding. If not, relocate the bait. (Smith and Whitman 1992). Indoor colonies nesting within voids can be controlled with baits. Access of foragers entering from outdoors through cracks and crevices or screens should be restricted with barrier sprays (Ferster et al. 2002).

Generally, control is not necessary except where it becomes a nuisance in the home or in greenhouses. If control is necessary, the ant is susceptible to a number of insecticides used in baits or as contact poisons.

Selected References (Back to Top)

  • Ayre GL. 1977. Exotic ants in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Entomologist 11: 4111-4144.
  • Chenault, EA. 1997. Ghost ants now in Texas. Texas A&M Agriculture News. (9 April 2013).
  • Clark DB, Guayasamin C, Pazmino O, Donoso C, Paez de Villacis Y. 1982. The Tramp ant Wasmannia auropunctata: Autecology and effects on ant diversity and distribution on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. Bio-tropica 14: 196-201.
  • Creighton WS. 1950. The ants of North America. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 104: 13-585, 57 pl.
  • Ebeling W. 1978. Urban Entomology. Agricultural Sciences Publications, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
  • Ferster B, Deyrup M, Scheffrahn RH, Cabrera BJ. (2002). The Pest Ants of Florida. (9 April 2013).
  • Gomez-Nunez JC. 1971. Tapinoma melanocephalum as an inhibitor of Rhodnius prolixus populations. Journal of Medical Entomology 8: 735-737.
  • Haack KD, Granovsky TA. (1990). Ants. In Handbook of Pest Control (Story K, Moreland D. (eds.)). Franzak & Foster Co., Cleveland, OH. pp. 415-479.
  • Hölldobler B, Wilson EO. 1990. The Ants. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. 732 pp.
  • Klotz JH, Mangold JR, Vail KM, Davis Jr LR, Patterson RS. 1995. A survey of the urban pest ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of peninsular Florida. Florida Entomologist 1: 109-118.
  • Klotz J, Williams D, Reid B, Vail K, Koehler P. (September 2000). Ant trails: A key to management with baits. EDIS. (no longer available online).
  • Koehler PG, Pereira RM, Oi FM. (August 2007). Ants. Florida Insect Management Guide. (9 December 2009).
  • Mattis P, Zerba Jr R, Bennett C. 2004. Pest of the month. Commercial Clippings 7(2): 3.
  • Osborne LS. Peña JE, Oi DH. 1995. Predation by Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: formicidae) on twospotted spider mites (Acari: Tetranychidae) in Florida Greenhouses. Florida Entomologist 78: 565-570.
  • Oster GF, Wilson EO. 1978. Caste and ecology in the social insects. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 352 pp.
  • Shepard M, Gibson F. 1972. Spider-ant symbiosis: Cotinusa spp. (Araneida: Salticidae) and Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Canadian Entomologist 104: 1951-1954.
  • Smith EH, Whitman RC. 1992. Field Guide to Structural Pests. National Pest Management Association, Dunn Loring, VA.
  • Smith MR. 1965. House-infesting ants of the eastern United States their recognition, biology, and economic importance. USDA-ARS Technical Bulletin 1326. 105 pp.
  • Wheeler WM. 1910. Ants, their structure, development and behavior. Columbia University Press. New York and London. 663 pp.

Authors: J.C. Nickerson and C.L. Bloomcamp, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
Originally published as DPI Entomology Circular 307. Updated for this publication.
Photographs: J.L. Castner, University of Florida Philip Bernie
Web Design: Don Wasik, Jane Medley
Publication Number: EENY-310
Publication Date: 2003. Latest revision: December 2012. Reviewed October 2018.

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Featured Creatures Editor and Coordinator: Dr. Elena Rhodes, University of Florida

Wolf spider

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Wolf spider, also called ground spider or hunting spider, any member of the spider family Lycosidae (order Araneida), a large and widespread group. They are named for the wolflike habit of chasing and pouncing upon prey. About 125 species occur in North America, about 50 in Europe. Numerous species occur north of the Arctic Circle. Most are small to medium-sized. The largest has a body about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long and legs about the same length.

Most wolf spiders are dark brown. The hairy body is long and broad, with stout, long legs. Wolf spiders are noted for their running speed. They are easily identified by the number and arrangement of the eyes: four small eyes in the lowest row, two very large eyes in a middle row, and two small or medium-sized eyes in a top row. The jaws are prominent and strong.

Wolf spiders commonly occur in grass or under stones, logs, or leaf litter. They are especially active at night or if the sky is overcast. The eggs are contained in a gray silk sac attached to the female’s spinnerets, or silk-producing organs, so that she appears to be dragging a large ball. After hatching, the young spiders ride on the mother’s back for several days.

Most species build silk-lined, tubular nests in the ground. Some conceal the entrance with rubbish others build a turretlike structure above it. A few species spin webs.

Wolf spiders of the genus Pirata, often found near ponds or streams, have a V-shaped pale mark on the back. The abdomen often has chevronlike marks and paired yellow spots. Thin-legged wolf spiders ( Pardosa), which have a lens-shaped, greenish or gray egg sac, have relatively long legs with long spines on the “foot.” Burrowing wolf spiders ( Geolycosa), which spend most of their lives in burrows, have heavy front legs that are used for digging. The wolf spiders with the largest bodies are mostly of the genus Lycosa, a large group that includes L. tarentula of southern Europe (see tarantula).

General features

Arachnids range in size from tiny mites that measure 0.08 mm (0.003 inch) to the enormous scorpion Hadogenes troglodytes of Africa, which may be 21 cm (8 inches) or more in length. In appearance, they vary from short-legged, round-bodied mites and pincer-equipped scorpions with curled tails to delicate, long-legged daddy longlegs and robust, hairy tarantulas.

Like all arthropods, arachnids have segmented bodies, tough exoskeletons, and jointed appendages. Most are predatory. Arachnids lack jaws and, with only a few exceptions, inject digestive fluids into their prey before sucking its liquefied remains into their mouths. Except among daddy longlegs and the mites and ticks, in which the entire body forms a single region, the arachnid body is divided into two distinct regions: the cephalothorax, or prosoma, and the abdomen, or opisthosoma. The sternites (ventral plates) of the lower surface of the body show more variation than do the tergites (dorsal plates). The arachnids have simple (as opposed to compound) eyes.

The cephalothorax is covered dorsally with a rigid cover (the carapace) and has six pairs of appendages, the first of which are the chelicerae, the only appendages that are in front of the mouth. In many forms they are chelate, or pincerlike, and are used to hold and crush prey. Among spiders the basal segment of the chelicerae contains venom sacs, and the second segment, the fang, injects venom. The pedipalps, or palps, which in arachnids function as an organ of touch, constitute the second pair of appendages. In spiders and daddy longlegs the pedipalps are elongated leglike structures, whereas in scorpions they are large chelate, prehensile organs. Among spiders the pedipalps are highly modified as secondary sexual organs. The basal segment is sometimes modified for crushing or cutting food. The remaining four pairs of appendages are walking legs, though the first of these pairs serves as tactile organs among the tailless whip scorpions (order Amblypygi) it is the second pair that functions as such among the daddy longlegs. Among the spiderlike ricinuleids (order Ricinulei), special copulatory organs are located on the third pair of legs. Some mites, particularly immature individuals, have only two or three pairs of legs.

Thread-waisted Wasps

Approximately one hundred and twenty five thread-waisted wasps (Sphecidae) call North America home. Familiar to most people as the long, thin wasps that occupy flower tops during the warmer seasons, their sometimes fragile look masks their predatory nature. Thread-waisted wasps capture and paralyze a variety of insect species and then transport them to their nests as hosts and feed their own larvae.

Fortunately their predatory nature extends only to the insect world. By and large they are solitary wasps that build nests in the ground to rear their young.

The picture highlights the long, skinny body of an Ammophila wasps. Ammophila do not live in their nests and therefore they do not generally cause any problems for homeowners. Most species have variations of red and black color markings on the thorax and abdomen and feet. Please press the Thread-waisted wasps button to learn more about this family.

Biology of Spiders

Spiders are not insects. They are close relatives of ticks, mites and scorpions, which all belong in the group called arachnids. Unlike insects, which have three main body sections and six legs, spiders have two body sections and eight legs (Figure 3). The eyes, mouthparts (Figure 4) and legs are found on the front section of the body, known as the cephalothorax. The second section, the abdomen, bears the parts of the respiratory system (spiracles and / or book lungs depending on the type of spider), the digestive and reproductive systems, and the external organs used for spinning silk or webbing. Most spiders are identified by size, color, markings on the body, and the number (usually six or eight) and arrangement of eyes. Female spiders wrap their eggs in a silken spun sac. Some spiders carry this egg sac, while others deposit it somewhere within their nest. Hatchling spiders (spiderlings) often produce a silk thread that allows them to disperse by "ballooning," i.e., being blown by wind currents to other areas.

Figure 3. A spider's body is divided into two parts. The cephalothorax is the fused head & thorax. The legs are located on the cephalothorax. The abdomen is similar to that of insects.

Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Figure 3. A spider's body is divided into two parts. The cephalothorax is the fused head & thorax. The legs are located on the cephalothorax. The abdomen is similar to that of insects.

Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Figure 4. Spiders have mouthparts known as "chelicerae" on which you will find their fangs.

Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Figure 4. Spiders have mouthparts known as "chelicerae" on which you will find their fangs.

Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Black and Yellow Garden Spider PDIC Factsheets

Argiope aurantia is a showy spider usually noticed in late summer. It has several common names: black-and-yellow argiope, black and yellow garden spider, corn spider, golden garden spider golden orb-weaver, writing spider, yellow garden argiope, yellow garden orb-weaver, and zipper spider. The bodies of females grow to a little more than one inch long males are much smaller. The third pair of legs is about half as long as the other legs. Males often hold the front pairs of legs close and the hind pairs of legs close together so that the silhouette resembles a St. Andrew's cross. The segment to which the legs and mouthparts attach is covered with very short, shiny, white scales. The abdomen is egg-shaped and conspicuously marked with black and yellow. Females spin orb webs (spiral sticky threads suspended on non-sticky spokes) with a conspicuous white zigzag structure in the middle called the stablementum. Spider experts disagree about why these spiders spin stablementa. Earlier the stablementum was thought to give stability to the web. Now the thinking is that the stablementum attracts insects or keeps birds from flying through the web. All spiders are carnivores that prey primarily on insects. Black and yellow garden spiders find their prey by sensing vibrations in the web. They eat anything that doesn't tear itself loose from the web. At night, females consume the sticky strands of the web and spin new ones. It is thought they gain some nutrition from minute insects and even miscellaneous organic matter caught in the web. After mating in late summer or early fall, females lay several hundred to a thousand or more eggs inside a brown, silk, spherical cocoon about an inch in diameter. The spiderlings hatch but do not emerge from the cocoon until the following spring. Unfortunately for them, parasites and predators, including birds, prey upon these hapless spiderlings so that only a few survive the winter and even fewer survive to become adults the following season. There is one generation per year.

The black and yellow garden spider.

The black and yellow garden spider.

Male black and yellow garden spiders are remarkably smaller than females.

Male black and yellow garden spiders are remarkably smaller than females.

Male black and yellow garden spiders are smaller and more slender than females.

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Jumping Spider

Jumping spiders are usually less than 2 cm (less than 0.8 in) in length with females generally larger than males. They are among the most ornate of spiders many species are brightly colored and strikingly patterned, with stout bodies, short legs, and a very large pair of eyes on the front of the face. The jumping spider has four pairs of eyes, with the large principal eyes giving it sharper vision than any other animal of similar size. It can identify prey, predators, and mates from up to 30 cm (up to 12 in) away.

The jumping spider is an active predator, usually hunting during daylight. It will stalk to within a few body lengths of the prey, crouch, crawl slowly forward, and then lift its front legs and pounce. It accomplishes its spectacular jumps by means of muscular contractions in the body that force body fluids into the legs, causing the legs to extend rapidly. Most jumping spiders feed on insects, while others feed primarily on web-building spiders.

The male's front pair of legs are colored and have distinctive bands of hair. In many species the male performs complex courtship displays in which he bobs his body and waves his front legs in a highly specific manner. After mating, the female lays her eggs in a silk-lined shelter under stones or bark, or on the surface of plants. The female will often guard the eggs and newly hatched young.

Scientific classification: Jumping spiders make up the family Salticidae, in the spider order Araneae. Spiders and scorpions belong to the class Arachnida.


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