Argiope bruennichi

This spider is found accross most of Europe and the south of England. This species builds a vertical orb web with vertical zig-zag band of silk (stabilimentum) in which it catches insects such as grasshoppers. This spider displays special behaviour for certain insect prey. For example, the bombadier beetle, a beetle that squirts hot gas from the tip of its abdomen could be damaging for a spider to catch. Argiope bruennichi however has a cunning strategy to overcome this problem, when a bombadier beetle lands in the spider's web, the spider will quickly approach the beetle wrap it in silk and leave it to expend all its chemical deterrant, when the it has done this the spider will then kill and eat the beetle safely.

The male of the species is much smaller and can often be seen in or near a female's web waiting for her to complete her final moult. After her final moult the female becomes sexually mature and her chelicerae (jaws) will be soft for a short time. During this short time the male can mate with the female without fear of being eaten.

This spider reaches its biggest during August when the females are full of eggs.

They are harmless, though in the very unlikely event of a bite the effects are likely to be mild swelling and itching at the site of the bite.

 

Above: the papery egg sac of the Argiope.

Above: a very young female. Younger members of the species are often very pale in colour and sometimes white.

 

Above: munching on a grasshopper.

Above: eating a butterfly.

 

 

 

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