Thanks to everyone that played this week’s Identify It! Challenge. For this week’s challenge we asked fans to guess the informal name, scientific name, give several facts, and identify one unique feature of this specimen of spider. Here is the original photograph:
The answers are:
Informal Name: Writing Spider (AKA Black and Yellow Garden Spider)
Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia
- This spider is called a writing spider because it often creates zig-zags (that look like the letter Z) or X’s or other patterns that look like letters. It does this because it often weaves very large webs and the patterns make the web visible to birds, squirrels, and other animals that might knock its web down.
- Although incorrectly drawn in the cartoon, Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web” was a writing spider!
- This spider will bite human beings if provoked but is not aggressive and its venom is usually not very potent. (its still a good idea to leave all spiders alone though)
- Argiope aurantia often leave an egg sack with thousands of eggs at the end of the fall season.
- The size and complexity of its web are a good indication of how well fed it is.
- Males are small and uninteresting marked, often building a small web adjacent to their female mates. Females are much larger (on the order of 3 inches in diameter) and are brightly marked with yellow spots and patterns on their abdomen and back.
Unique to this specimen: If you look closely at the photograph you will notice that this spider only has seven legs. It isn’t clear if the spider lost its leg at some point or if it was born without it.
This specimen has lived for at least the last three years on the side of the Sylvan Learning Center in Burlington NC. (As one fan pointed out its interesting that a “writing spider” would take up residence at a learning center.)
More Higher Resolution photographs can be found at the following link:
or also at our “photo” tab at our fan page on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/HarrisEducational)
Thanks to everyone for playing this week’s Identify It! Challenge. Stay tuned for the next one!