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Beneficial Yellow Garden Spiders

The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is also known as a writing spider. Legend has it that if you disturb or damage the web, then the spider will write your name when it reweaves the web. One myth is that if this happens, you will die soon. Another story is that if the spider hears you speak someone’s name or counts someone’s teeth, it will write that person’s name when weaving the web. It is always interesting to me how these garden myths get started.

Yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia) are also known as writing spiders due to the zig-zag pattern they weave in their large webs. Barbara H. Smith, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson University

Yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia) are also known as writing spiders due to the zig-zag pattern they weave in their large webs.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson University

These beautiful spiders are beneficial and prey on bothersome insects, such as gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and aphids. Barbara H. Smith, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson University

These beautiful spiders are beneficial and prey on bothersome insects, such as gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and aphids.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson University

This beautiful, yellow and black spider is not poisonous and is a great addition to the garden landscape. Big, visible, circular webs appear all around the garden, especially in the late summer or early fall. It takes hours for the spider to create its impressive web. Most spiders have two claws on each foot, but the yellow garden spider has an additional claw to help it spin the complex web. Spider silk is one of the strongest natural fibers and uses UV-reflecting and non-reflecting silks in constructing the web. It gets the name “writing spider” because it weaves a zig-zag pattern in the middle of the web. The zig-zag design helps stabilize the large web. If disturbed, the spider will vibrate the web as a defense mechanism.

It is beneficial, as it eats mosquitoes, gnats, flies, aphids, and other bothersome pests. When a delectable insect gets caught in the sticky web, the vibrations alert the spider that dinner has arrived. The prey is injected with venom from the spider’s fangs and rapidly wrapped in silk. The spider will wait until the prey liquefies, so it can easily drink the fluid from its victim.

Please welcome this beneficial beauty to your garden, and don’t harm it as it will not harm you.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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