Subject: Bizarre Spider
Location: Mutare, Zimbabwe
January 3, 2014 5:23 am
I have this spider in my garden here in Mutare, Zimbabwe and I have never seen anything quite like it before. I was really hoping you would be able to tell me what it is so I may learn more about it. The photo was taken on Christmas day 2013 (which is the middle of our rainy season here)
Looking forward to hearing from you
This is a harmless Orbweaver in the genus Argiope. Though they are harmless to humans, they do possess venom and a large female, like this one, might bite if carelessly handled, but the bite would only cause local swelling and soreness with no lasting ill effects. Orbweavers are found exclusively in their webs unless circumstances force them to relocate, like having the web destroyed. We believe your spider is a Lobed Argiope, Argiope lobata. Here is a photo from SpidezRule and one from Animal a Day. The pattern on the body of your spider is somewhat different, so it may be a different species in the same genus. Your individual is one of the Argiope species that constructs the St. Andrew’s Cross pattern in the web and your backlit photos nicely illustrate how the light breaks up in the silken pattern of the web.