The silver garden spider, Argiope argentata, is a common orb weaver in the warm and humid regions in the Southern United States, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. It spins large, orb shaped webs to catch flying insects. As other Argiope spiders, the silver garden spider is often seen in the center of the web with its eight legs spread out in pairs, forming an x-shape. The abdomen of the silver garden spider is white or silver with five spines with orange, yellow and black markings on them.
Argiope Argentata Spider Description
The silver Argiope has a silver or white cephalothorax (head) and abdomen. The back of the abdomen is adorned with several spines with orange, yellow and black coloration. The legs are orange with several black or dark brown bands towards the end.
The light-colored body parts are reflecting UV-light similar to flowers. This feature and the peculiar shape of the spider confuses butterflies, moths and other prey animals into thinking that the spider is a flower that can be pollinated. As soon as the touch the web, they’ll get stuck and the spider will deal a paralyzing bite before wrapping them up in silk.
The spider is most commonly seen in the center of its web with its legs spread out in pairs, forming an x-shape. The underside of the spider has a yellow or white horizontal stripe on a dark background.
As other argiope spiders, the silver argiope is a relatively large spider with long legs. An average female specimen reaches a body size of 0.5 inches (12 mm) with the possibility of growing up to 1 inch (24 mm). With its legs spread out, the spider can reach a size of up to 3 inches (7 cm).
The male spider is much smaller than the female, reaching only about 30% of the female’s body size. Argiope aurantia is also one of the spider species where the male is killed and often consumed after mating.
As part of the orb weaver family of spiders, Argiope argentata spins a large orb-shaped web to catch flying insects. The web can be several feet in diameter and is often spun between trees or large flowers, trees, prickly-pear plants or on front porches.
As the body of the spider, the silk used to spin the web also reflects UV-light to attract pollinating prey animals.
Argiope aurantia often builds stabilimenta into its web to add additional stability. These elements often look like white zig-zag shapes in the web. This behavior is similar to that of other Argiope spiders in the United States such as the black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) or the banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata).
Argiope Spider Bite
Argiope spiders are non-aggressive spiders and rarely bite humans or pets. In the rare cases where a bite happens, it generally does not have any effects other than some localized pain and swelling, similar to a bee sting. It is still advisable to treat and bite with disinfectants to prevent secondary infections.
Garden spiders are great to have around the house for insect control as the catch annoying mosquitoes and other flying insects.
Geographic Range of the silver garden spider in the United States
Due to its preference for warm and humid weather, the silver argiope only occurs in the Southern United States in Southern California, Florida, Arizona and Texas. Outside the United States, the spider is found in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Argiope Argentata Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Aranidae
- Genus: Argiope
- Species: Argiope argentata