What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Location:  Los Angeles, California
March 8, 2012
Dear WTB,
I’ve recently been sorting through some old photos and found these two images of a spider and egg sack that I took in my garden this past Fall.  My father told me that country people called them “writing spiders” and said that if you saw your name written in their webs you would die.  Both the spider and the egg sack were located in the same part of the garden and I assume the egg sack is from this spider.  Can you tell me the actual name of this spider and let me know if I should be excited to have more of them in my garden this spring?
Thanks,
Susan Lutz

Writing Spider

Dear Susan,
Your father is absolutely correct, at least as far as the name goes.  Writing Spider is a perfectly acceptable common name for this spider, as are Golden Orbweaver and Yellow Garden Spider, though if you really want to be technical, you would refer to this species as
Argiope aurantia to avoid any confusion.  The common name Writing Spider arises from the zigzag pattern spun into the web, a structure known as the stabilimentum.  We had never heard the lore regarding death being the outcome of seeing your name written in the web.  Tell Dr. Lutz we found that bit of trivia perfectly fascinating.  The Egg Sac is in fact that of a Writing Spider.  Here is a photo from our archives of a female Writing Spider and her Egg Sac.  Spiderlings will hatch in the spring and spin a silken thread to catch the wind in order to disperse, a behavior known as ballooning.  If you desire more information, you can always search BugGuide.

Egg Sac of a Writing Spider

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: California

One Response to Writing Spider and Egg Sac

  1. Joseph says:

    Susan,

    I am not an expert on spiders but I have seen my name in the web of a writing spider multiple times and have not died yet. In fact, the most common reason some people say that is because most people think they’re venomous. They do have venom but it is harmless to humans. You should be excited about the Golden Orbweaver or “Writing Spider” being in the garden. They will help keep insects from eating your produce.

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