Subject: what kind of spider is this?
Location: Dakar, Senegal
December 8, 2012 5:02 am
I just found this spider in my cucumber patch and I’m wondering if you can tell me about it. Its black with light yellow stripes, and it’s quite large. It’s abdomen is a little smaller than a half dollar coin and it’s legs are about two inches long. The thing that i find most interesting about it is the shape of it’s abdomen — I’ve never seen a spider quite like it before!
I live in Dakar, Senegal in West Africa. It’s the dry season here this time of year which means clear colder weather (though it rarely gets below the high 70’s) and lots of wind. According to my Senegalese neighbor this is the time of year that these particular spiders show up.
Many thanks for your help in identifying my new tenant!
This is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae. We are not certain of the species and we will try to secure that information.
Thank you Daniel for your fast response! I’ve been perusing your fantastic site so I also guessed it was an orb weaver based on other entries. But what species?? i’ve done my usual google searches an nothing similar comes up.
Hi again Amy,
We had no luck finding any matching images either. Seems there is not an extensive Senegalese spider archive online.
Yeah, too bad. Thanks so much for your effort though!
The spider has moved to my tomatillo bed and seems quite happy. i’m hoping she has an appetite for grasshoppers — the scourge of my garden!
Update from Amy: December 11, 2012
Hi again Daniel,
It occurred to me to search for the spider in french on google.fr (I searched for: les araignées du senegal), and I think I may have found something. There are many pictures of my spider, most of which are much better than mine but unfortunately have descriptions like “une jolie araignée du senegal”, without any scientific name. There was one however that said Argiope lobata – espèce d’araignées aranéomorphes de la famille des Araneidae. Could this be it? A quick google search for Argiope lobata in english turned up many images of spiders with the same markings and abdomen shape but slightly different coloring.
Thanks again for all your help!
We agree that your Orbweaver is most likely Argiope lobata. There is often a degree of variability in coloring of Orbweavers within a species. The photo on TrekNature is especially nice though the text is in Spanish and no country is listed.