Wednesday, 21 September 2016

beware of spider

Boy I hope I don't alienate you with this post which I've decided to put up with a warning title.
I've left all the pictures purposefully small, but I've worked on them to get the best detail I could, so if you would like to see more, just click on each photo for its largest version.

Wally was about to mount the ladder when he found this huge, by Canadian standards, spider: Argiope aurantia

I don't know where I summoned my courage from to get as close as I did to take her picture

but the truth is she wasn't happy either and vacated her web between the rungs of the ladder

awkwardly scrambling away

Commonly known as Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Black and Yellow Argiope, Garden Spider, Writing Spider, Golden Orbweaver, the Argiope aurantia is pretty abundant everywher in the USA and southeastern Canada but is not common in parts of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Its range extends as far south as Costa Rica in Central America.

Argiope is Latin for “with bright face” (Cameron 2005); aurantia, in Latin, is an adjective meaning “orange-colored.”
While I wonder why the Latins didn't have a word for yellow, I can see where our word "orange" stems from the pronunciation of the Lation word "aurantia".

"Little" Miss Argiope makes a slow run for it.
Except that she was large which I think is common for female spiders, I don't know why I thought this was a female but sure enough:

the adult female has a carapace silver or white, top of abdomen boldly patterned in black and yellow, while the underside of the abdomen is mottled black with two vertical, parallel yellow stripes. Adult males are typically shades of brown and much, much smaller than the female.

She has a total of eight eyes. The median eyes are grouped together in a trapezoid shape, while the lateral eyes are some distance away. I guess there are 8 eyes her in and around that triangular hat shape.
The legs of mature female specimens are yellowish or reddish brown at base and black distally. Immature specimens have entirely banded legs. Legs of adult male mostly brown with faded black bands. So again, another reason she is decidedly female.

Each tarsus (tip of leg) has 3 claws, but I can't make them out.

Argiope aurantia is one of the largest members of the orb weaver family Araneidae in North America. Because of its size and bright coloration, this species is one of the most commonly known and recognized by observers.

Two more interesting facts:
It takes almost all of its potty breaks at night, and often leaves its web to do so.
This spider will rapidly shake and vibrate in its web as a defensive strategy to scare predators off.
The shaking blurs the spider and makes it appear bigger than it really is, though ours didn't try this strategy on us.

Anyway, I was thoroughly creeped out after this session, not only of photographing her, but of preparing this post. Even so, I found it and what I learned in research fascinating.

I hope you have survived this and forgive me,
for after all, when we say we love nature,
she is part of it.


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