Garden Spider Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia

What does a Garden Spider look like?

The Garden spider is also known as the black and yellow spider, corn spider, writing spider, and black and yellow Argiope. The most distinctive feature of a Garden spider is its black or brown and yellow markings on its abdomen. Female spiders are much larger than males, reaching up to 1.5 inches long. Males are about .75 inches long. Both the male and female Garden spiders have a small front body section (cephalothorax) that is white with silver hairs all over it. Garden spider legs are black with red or yellow bands and each one has three claws at the end.

Where does the Garden Spider live, and what does it eat?

The Garden spider is most common throughout the Americas:  southern Canada, the continental U.S. and Hawaii, Mexico and Central America, but is found in almost every country in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the “orb web” group of spiders, the Garden spider spins a circular web that spirals out from the center. These webs can be as large as two feet in diameter. The female builds the main web and the male will build a smaller secondary web (small, thick, and zigzag shaped) attached to the outer web of the female’s. The female hides to the side of her web on a thin strand of silk or hangs her head down in the center of the web to catch her prey. When she feels the vibration of an insect hitting her web she will rise to strike. The Garden spider prefers to spin its web in a sunny place with little or no wind. Interestingly, this spider eats its web each night and builds a new one.

Garden spiders eat mostly flying insects like aphids, flies, bees, wasps, and grasshoppers. They wait for the insects to fly into their web then catch and eat them.

How long will the typical Garden Spider live?

Female Garden spiders lay their eggs on the sides of their web after mating then covers the egg with a papery sac that can be up to an inch wide. A single Garden spider egg sac may contain up to 1,000 eggs. The female dies after laying her eggs then the eggs hatch in the fall. After hatching, the eggs remain in the sac through the winter. The spiderlings emerge in the spring completely independent. Predators of the Garden spider include birds, some species of wasps, shrews, and lizards.

Are Garden Spiders venomous?

Garden spiders may attack humans if there is a perceived threat, or when squeezed or pinched against human skin. These spiders are not aggressive, however, and will rarely bite a human. The bite of a Garden spider is venomous, but the venom injected is not harmful to humans or animals. Most of the time a Garden spider bite displays no symptoms, but occasionally will result in swelling, itching, and minimal discomfort.

It is rare but possible to suffer from an allergic reaction to the venom of a Garden spider. In you think that you have been bitten by a Garden Spider and are showing symptoms of an allergic reaction (headache, vomiting, general nausea), you should consult a medical doctor immediately.

Garden Spider Control

If indoor numbers of the Garden spider have become unmanageable, you may desire professional pest control. The Garden spider is most active in the daytime, so any control should be done in the evening hours:

  1. Pesticides can be applied into all cracks and crevices in and around the home. Demand CS, CyKick and Cyper WP are some commonly used professional pesticide brands.
  2. Outdoor pesticides includes applying pesticides into exterior cracks and at other likely points of entry in foundations or exterior walls.

DIY and Green Solutions for Garden Spider Control

Try some of these prevention methods, and if a small infestation has broken out in or around your home, try some natural methods to get rid of them.

  1. Clean house: Reduce clutter inside and outside your home to eliminate nesting sites for the Garden spider. Outdoors, particularly pay attention to loose soil, mulch, rocks, and lumber. Get rid of any unnecessary garden material.
  2. Exclusion:  Prevent the entry of Garden spiders using natural repellents like sodium vapor light bulbs, chestnuts, or tobacco. Seal up all cracks in exterior walls. Use weather stripping and replace trim around doors and windows.
  3. Traps:  that are sticky on one side are a great way to lure spiders from their hiding places and kill them. This can make a dent in spider numbers, but if they’re still coming in through an entry point you first need to identify all entrances, then set to work sealing them off.
  4. Invade their territory:  Sweep or vacuum webs of the spider inside and outside; if they find their nesting site has been invaded, they will seek a site elsewhere.
  5. Chemicals like dust or liquid pesticides work well to control spider populations, but should be used with caution. Use products labeled specifically for ground spiders, and follow all instructions carefully. Widespread application may be necessary for large infestations and should be done by a professional. “Green shield certified” professional pest control companies can treat infestations with natural compounds, safe for kids and pets.

Garden spiders may actually be a welcome member of your garden, feeding on many garden-devastating pests. If they have entered your home, however, control measures should be employed to control numbers.