Yellow Garden Spider vs Golden Orb Weaver: Ultimate Arachnid Showdown

When delving into the world of spiders, two fascinating species you may come across are the yellow garden spider and the golden orb weaver. These spiders are known for their impressive webs and unique appearances.

The yellow garden spider, or Argiope aurantia, is a large orb-weaving spider that often captures the attention of gardeners due to its bold markings and striking web patterns. On the other hand, the golden orb weaver, which includes various species such as the golden silk orb, spins massive webs up to four feet in diameter. Both spiders use their intricate webs to catch their prey.

Throughout this article, you’ll explore the differences between the yellow garden spider and the golden orb weaver, such as their appearance, habitats, and the way they weave their captivating webs. By understanding their unique characteristics, you can appreciate these fascinating spiders and their role in nature.

Physical Characteristics and Identification

Abdomen and Legs

The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) and the golden orb weaver (Banana spider) differ in their abdomen and legs. Here’s how you can identify them:

Yellow garden spider:

  • Abdomen is oval and somewhat flattened.
  • Legs are elongated and have a unique third claw on each leg for web weaving.

Golden orb weaver:

  • Abdomen is rounded and has a cylindrical shape.
  • Legs are long and hairy with strong spines.

Colours and Patterns

These spiders have different colours and patterns, making them easier to distinguish.

Yellow garden spider:

  • Bright neon yellow body with a black splotch in the middle.
  • Brown legs near the body with prominent black tips.
  • Webs have a vertical zig-zag pattern, known as stabilimentum.

Golden orb weaver:

  • Body can be yellowish-brown to golden, with intricate reddish patterns.
  • Legs have alternating black and red-brown bands.
  • Webs can be golden in color, hence the name.

Male vs Female Characteristics

Both the yellow garden spider and the golden orb weaver have noticeable differences between male and female spiders.

Feature Yellow Garden Spider Golden Orb Weaver
Female Size 19 to 28 millimeters 30 to 50 millimeters
Male Size About 5 to 9 millimeters 5 to 10 millimeters
Color Males are lighter with smaller markings Males are less colorful
Cephalothorax Covered with silver hairs Not covered with silver hairs

Now that you know more about the physical characteristics and identification of the yellow garden spider and golden orb weaver, you’ll be more confident in recognizing them in nature. Remember, these spiders are beneficial to gardens and ecosystems, so it’s essential to acknowledge their presence and appreciate their role as natural pest controllers.

Habitat and Geographic Distribution

Global Domains

Yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers have different global distributions. Yellow garden spiders can be found in many regions across the globe, including North America, Central America, and even parts of Asia. On the other hand, golden orb weavers have a vast range that spans the globe, from Southeast Asia and Australia to Africa and parts of Georgia in Europe.

Specific Regions

In Canada, yellow garden spiders are common, whereas golden orb weavers are not native to the region. Yellow garden spiders can often be found in gardens, fields, and forests. In contrast, golden orb weavers are more prevalent in countries like Australia and regions of Africa where they can be found in forests or woodland areas, as well as gardens.

In Mexico and Central America, yellow garden spiders can be found in various habitats including gardens and fields, while golden orb weavers might be seen in similar areas, but their distribution is somewhat limited.

European regions like Georgia are home to golden orb weavers, while yellow garden spiders are not as common. Conversely, yellow garden spiders can be found in some parts of Asia while golden orb weavers thrive in Southeastern regions.

  • Yellow garden spiders: commonly found in:
    • Gardens
    • Fields
    • Forests
  • Golden orb weavers: commonly found in:
    • Forests
    • Woodlands
    • Gardens

In conclusion, yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers have distinct geographic distributions and preferences for various habitats. It’s essential to know their specific range and the locations where they can be found to understand more about these fascinating creatures.

Building and Characteristics of Webs

Web Construction

When it comes to web construction, both the Yellow Garden Spider and the Golden Silk Orb Weaver are expert builders. They are orb-weaving spiders, meaning they create intricate, circular webs.

Their webs utilize a stabilimentum—a line or pattern of silk in the center. The stabilimentum may serve multiple purposes, from attracting prey to defending against predators.

Web Types

Spider Web Types
Yellow Garden Spider Orb webs with stabilimenta
Golden Silk Orb Weaver Large golden-colored orb webs
  • Yellow Garden Spider: These spiders create orb webs with a signature zig-zag pattern called a stabilimentum. The stabilimenta may serve as camouflage, prey capture, or as a warning to predators.
  • Golden Silk Orb Weaver: They construct large, golden-colored orb webs. The silk of their webs is not only beautiful but also incredibly strong and can capture large prey.

Both spiders use non-sticky spiral silk for constructing their orb webs. This silk allows them to move quickly without getting stuck, while their prey remains trapped. Investing time and effort into these intricate webs pays off, as they capture numerous insects, providing the spider with a steady food supply.

As a gardener or nature enthusiast, when you come across these fascinating webs, it’s an opportunity to witness nature’s intricate designs. Remember to appreciate and respect these spiders for their essential role in keeping insect populations in check.

Diet and Predation

Predatory Tactics

As a yellow garden spider, you rely on your incredible orb-weaving abilities to catch prey. You create a large, complex web with a zig-zag pattern in the center to trap unsuspecting insects.

On the other hand, as a golden orb weaver, your web is known for being both massive and golden in color. This extraordinary web can even catch small birds, as it’s made from golden silk.

Types of Prey

Both yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers predominantly feed on various types of insects. Some examples of their prey include:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Bees

Your prey is attracted to the web and captured while you wait patiently for your next meal.

In some cases, golden orb weavers can catch slightly larger prey, such as small birds. However, this is rare and occurs only when the bird might accidentally fly into the web.

Potential Threats

Both spider species face threats from predators like birds, wasps, and other larger spiders. In addition, you might find that your web gets destroyed by weather or human interference.

Defensive Mechanisms

As a yellow garden spider, your venom is effective for immobilizing your prey. Your bright yellow and black coloration can also deter predators by making you appear venomous and posing a risk to them.

Golden orb weavers share some of these defensive mechanisms. Their venom is also used to immobilize prey, and their large, golden webs can serve as deterrents for potential predators as well. Moreover, your size as a golden orb weaver can be a helpful aspect in evading predation.

To summarize the differences and similarities between yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers, here’s a comparison table:

Feature Yellow Garden Spider Golden Orb Weaver
Web Design Zig-zag pattern Golden colored
Prey Flies, moths, beetles, bees Same + small birds
Threats Birds, wasps, larger spiders Same
Defensive Tactics Venom, coloration Same + size, web color

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating Process

For both the Yellow Garden Spider and the Golden Orb Weaver, the mating process is risky for the male. He must carefully approach the female to avoid being mistaken for prey. Both spider species transfer sperm via a structure called a pedipalp.

  • Yellow Garden Spider males are smaller than females and can use their size to approach cautiously and then insert their pedipalps into the female’s genital opening.
  • Golden Orb Weaver males follow a similar process but must also be cautious of other males competing for the same female.

Offspring

After mating, both spider species create egg sacs:

  • Yellow Garden Spider females produce multiple, large brown egg sacs that contain hundreds of eggs. These sacs are usually hidden in nearby foliage for protection.
  • Golden Orb Weaver females construct yellow to brownish colored, spherical egg sacs containing hundreds of eggs, often attaching them to their web or surrounding vegetation.

The offspring of both species emerge from the egg sacs in spring, after which they disperse to build their own webs and begin their own life cycle.

Life Span

Yellow Garden Spiders and Golden Orb Weavers have different lifespans:

  • Yellow Garden Spider: This species generally lives for about a year, with most eggs hatching in the spring and spiders reaching maturity by late summer. Adult females often die after laying their eggs, while males may die shortly after mating.
  • Golden Orb Weaver: These spiders have a similar annual life cycle, but males have a shorter lifespan and often die after mating.

Here is a brief comparison table:

Feature Yellow Garden Spider Golden Orb Weaver
Mating process Risky for the male Risky for the male
Egg sacs Large, brown, and hidden Yellow to brownish, spherical
Offspring emergence Spring Spring
Life span Around 1 year Around 1 year (shorter for males)

Conservation and Human Interaction

Conservation Efforts

Yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers are both relatively stable in terms of population and conservation status. They do not currently face any major threats, and their conservation status is considered stable according to the Encyclopedia of Life and the Animal Diversity Web. However, as with all wildlife, it’s important to keep their habitats intact and minimize human interference.

Spider Bites

While both yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers are capable of biting humans, they are not aggressive spiders. They usually only bite when feeling threatened or handled roughly. Their bites are similar to a bee sting and are not considered dangerous. If bitten, you may experience:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Itchiness

However, serious reactions are rare. Nonetheless, it’s best to avoid handling these spiders and give them space in their natural habitat.

Significance in Ecosystem

Both yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers play a vital role in their ecosystems. They control insect populations by preying on various pests. In turn, this contributes to maintaining stable and healthy ecosystems. Some key points regarding their importance:

  • They help control the populations of insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and beetles.
  • By reducing pest populations, they indirectly support healthy plant growth.
  • They serve as a food source for various birds and other predators.

In summary, yellow garden spiders and golden orb weavers are essential components of their ecosystems. They contribute to maintaining ecological balance and support the functioning of ecosystems by controlling pests. So, it’s important to conserve their habitat and appreciate their role in nature.

Other Varieties of Garden and Orb Spiders

Golden Garden Spider

The Golden Garden Spider, also known as the Banana Spider, is a native to both North and South America. This spider belongs to the Araneidae family and is known for its striking appearance, with golden-yellow hues and black markings. The webs they build are primarily found in shrubs and can be up to 2 feet across. The Golden Garden Spider is not dangerous to humans or pets.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Similar to the Golden Garden Spider, the Black and Yellow Garden Spider is another orb-weaving spider that is known for its distinctive appearance. These spiders have an intricate black and yellow pattern on their bodies. They are commonly found in gardens and their webs can also be 2 feet across. Like the Golden Garden Spider, they are not dangerous to humans or pets.

European Garden Spider

The European Garden Spider or the Araneus diadematus is another member of the Araneidae family, native to Europe. This spider is known for its characteristic markings, which form a cross-shaped pattern on its back. They can build their webs on various plants and structures in gardens and are found across Europe. These spiders pose no threat to humans.

Banded Garden Spider

The Banded Garden Spider, like the other mentioned spiders, belongs to the Araneidae family. They exhibit stunning bands of yellow, black, and white on their bodies. Here are some key characteristics of the Banded Garden Spider:

  • Known as the zigzag spider, McKinley spider, or Steeler spider
  • Their webs could have zigzagging patterns called stabilimenta
  • They can be found in gardens, tall grasses, and shrubs

Comparing these spiders, let’s look at a table summarizing their unique features:

Spider Key Features
Golden Garden Spider Golden-yellow hues, black markings, large webs
Black and Yellow Spider Black and yellow pattern, large webs
European Garden Spider Cross-shaped markings, variety of web locations
Banded Garden Spider Bands of yellow, black, and white, zigzagging web patterns

As you can see, each variety of garden and orb spiders has its unique characteristics and features, making them a fascinating aspect of the world of arachnids.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac

 

6 yr old bug scientist needs your help again
September 21, 2009
Hi,
Earlier this summer, you helped us identify a silver argiope orb weaver that we found outside my son’s school. Since then, he’s found a Golden Orb Weaver in our back yard that we identified by using your sight. Over the weekend, she suddenly disappeared for a couple of days and we wondered what happened to her. Well, this morning, we found out. She was back – and with a very large egg sac.
I’ve attached pictures of her both before and after the egg sac appeared.
My son would like to know if you have any idea how many baby spiders we can expect and how long it will take them to hatch. Also – will the mommy spider survive this process?
Thanks for your help!
P.S. I tried to send this earlier today, but got an error message and couldn’t tell if it went through so if you get it twice, I apologize.
Mom of future “bug guy”
Aliso Viejo, CA

Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac
Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac

Dear Mom of future “bug guy”,
Several hundred spiderlings will emerge from this Golden Orbweavers Egg Sac, probably between 200 and 500.  Since you live where there is a mild climate, they mother spider might survive to see her spiderlings emerge, but in harsher climates, the Egg Sac will overwinter and the mother will die.  When the spiderlings emerge, they will balloon away on the wind on silken threads to disperse whichever way the wind blows.  They can travel quite far on the wind.

Letter 2 – Golden Orbweaver Egg Sacs

 

Golden Orb Spider
Location:  Hickroy, NC
September 19, 2010 7:24 pm
Dear Bugman,
A few weeks ago you helped identify a Golden Orb Spider for us. We have enjoyed watching it spin and catch it’s prey. We just came back from a camping trip and went to check the back window for our friend. Her web has changed dramatically and there are 2 large brown sacks (each about the size of a large grape) hanging at the corner of the door frame. Would these possibly be egg sacks from our Golden Orb? Any thoughts?
Signature:  Dlee

Golden Orbweaver Egg Sacs

Dear Dlee,
You are correct.  These Egg Sacs were made by your Golden Orbweaver.  She may have died of natural causes or been eaten, or perhaps she just moved away, which explains why her web is no longer maintained.  The eggs will hatch in the spring, and hundreds of spiderlings will balloon off on the wind to be dispersed throughout the area.

Letter 3 – Golden Orbweaver lays three egg sacs

 

Subject: Golden Orb Spider
December 20, 2015 6:03 pm
Want ed to thank you for all the info on the Golden Orb Garden Spider.  My son who is 30, and I have enjoyed watching the one we have on our porch most of all this year and she has just laid her 3rd egg sack!!!  I  thought they only had one, but she produced another one that she worked on all night.  Our weather has been good  through December so she may live a little longer.  Your information was helpful, especially in removing my fear of spiders, lol.  Thanks again and take care.  Jennifer King
Signature: Jennifer King

Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac
Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac

Dear Jennifer,
Thanks so much for your very sweet comment.  Since you did not provide an image, we have taken a nice image from our archives showing a Golden Orbweaver with her Egg Sac to accompany your posting.

Letter 4 – Golden Web Spider from Indonesia

 

Subject: Nephila pilipes??
Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
February 5, 2013 7:39 am
Hello!
I’ve come across a couple of these spiders here in Sumatra, and I’ve been identifying them as some kind of Nephilia pilipes subspecies. Do you know if I’m correct? I’ve been posting them on Project Noah, so would love to know if I need to change that! Thanks so much!
http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/17627020
Signature: Luke

Batik Golden Web Spider

Hi Luke,
Spiders in the genus
Nephila are known as Golden Silk Spiders or Golden Web Spiders because the silk they spin is noticeably golden in coloration.  We looked at some online images of Nephila pilipes on Arachne.org.au and on Encyclopedia of Life, and though they are similar to your spider, the coloration on the legs is quite different.  Your individual has much redder legs.  While we know there is individual variation, we are also aware that there are numerous members of the genus Nephila found in the Old World, so we did a web search for Indonesia and we were led to an old posting on our site titled Batik Golden Web Spider and the identification Nephila antipodiana with citations.  We checked the citations and found that the Guide to Common Singapore Spiders provides this identification information:  “The female has completely black palps and legs, without any red or yellow joints.”  That information disagrees with your spider as well as our posting, leading us to believe that Nephila antipodiana might not be a correct identification for either your spider or our old posting.  The other citation, Malaysian Spiders, also shows photos with black legs.  Now we are stuck with having visually matched your spider to another spider from our archives, also from Indonesia, that can only be conclusively identified to the genus level.  Additional searching led to another possibility being Nephila vitiana which we found on the Foto Biodiversitas Indonesia website, but it is difficult to match your spider to the photo of an immature specimen provided.  Alas, we cannot say for certain what species you have photographed, but if you ever learn for certain, please let us know so we can update this posting as well as our archive.  At the risk of alienating our readership, we must come clean with you and inform you that we have no scientific credentials, and like many other places on the internet, the information you learn on What’s That Bug? cannot always be trusted.  Though we strive for accuracy, we are frequently wrong.  We are not a scientific site, but rather a pop culture site with the mission to promote tolerance of the lower beasts.  Since our background is photography and fine art, we took the liberty of color correcting the extreme yellow of your photo which brings out the contrast in the abdominal markings much better.  

Thanks so much for taking the time to look at this, Daniel! After looking at the Batik Golden Spider in your link (that may or may not be a Batik Golden Spider after all), and taking a closer look at the pattern on the spider I photographed (I’ve uploaded a hard crop for you to compare as well), I don’t know if I would say that they’re a visual match. Besides the body seeming to be a bit shorter and thicker, the pattern seems closer to the spiders in these links which are identified as pilipes, except of course for the the red legs (maybe just a color morph?):
http://frank.itlab.us/photo_essays/wrapper.php?mar_21_2009_argyrodes.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73237890@N08/6646863831/
But, of course, who knows how correct those identifications are!
Incidentally, here’s another spotting that I had of what seems to be a spider with an identical pattern, with the only difference seeming to be the solid black legs. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/13025052

Oops, forgot to attach the crop.
I also found this website where the spider has red legs and is identified as pilipes. Incidentally, we’re not too far from Bengkulu/Curup.
http://curupkami.blogspot.com/2009/04/spider-golden-orb-web-spider-nephila.html

Golden Web Spider from Indonesia

Hi again Nicholas,
We updated the posting with your new information.

Letter 5 – Golden Orbweaver in Canada

 

Evil lerking in the fields of Ottawa
Location:  Ottawa, Ontario. In a field with no water nearby.
August 28, 2010 7:04 pm
Hey Bugman,
I was trying to take an interesting picture and to do so, it involved walking through this small field.
Upon tredging through this tall grass my friend and I noticed this huge horrid looking spider!
All it’s legs were black, and about half-way towards its body they seemed to be almost clear.
It was mainly black with a yellow sploch between where all its legs meet, near it’s ”head” on its underside, then also further up along its body.
On its top it seemed really almost soft to the touch (not that I touched it)but it looked almost like suede.
It was also mostly black with a yellow sort of design.
Lasltly, it seemed to have a small-ish flat, grey head.
After we saw one we started to notice them everywhere, so I snapped a few pictures and got out!
Thanks so much
Jessica

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Jessica,
Many people consider the Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, to be the most beautiful spider in North America.  They are not aggressive and rarely bite, and when they do bite, the reaction is mild and does not last long.

Letter 6 – Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac

 

Subject: URGENT – Supposed Banana Spider?
Location: Fort Oglethorpe, GA
September 19, 2015 7:40 am
My friend decided to let this little (big) girl stay on her front porch. She runs a daycare out of her home. She calls it a banana spider but I want to know for certain. Especially because she just made an egg sac and it’s huge!!!!!!!! She’s about 2-3″ long and the sac is bigger than her. This is urgent because of the kids that run around her place.
please help!!!
Signature: thanks, Amy

Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac
Golden Orbweaver with Egg Sac

Dear Amy,
This is not a Banana Spider, a common name often given to
Nephila clavipes.  This is a Golden Orbweaver, Argiope aurantia, and they are considered harmless, and though big individuals might bite, they are not aggressive and the bite would only cause local tenderness and swelling.  In our opinion, the Golden Orbweaver poses no threat to the children, and they can be taught about the marvels of nature through observation.

Letter 7 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Huge spider
Location:  San Antonio, Texas
August 15, 2010 8:04 pm
I actually measured this spider, and she was about two inches from butt to mandibles. She doesn’t really look like any of the spiders I can find online.
This photo was taken August 14th, in San Antonio, Texas.
Andrea in San Antonio

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Andrea,
Your Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, is also known as a Writing Spider because of the zigzag stabilimentum that is woven into the web.  We expect to be getting numerous identification requests for the Golden Orbweaver as well as other Orbweavers because summer is nearing an end and the spiders are nearing maturity.  The large females, like your specimen, are frequently seen in their webs.  Orbweavers are rarely seen far from their webs, and as spiders go, they are considered sedentary.

Letter 8 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Orchid Spider?
Location:  Southeast
August 22, 2010 5:22 pm
This spider had spun a beautiful web with a zig zag down the middle. We figured it was some type of orb spider and ran to the computer to check it out on WTB. Seems to fit the descrip of a Orchid Spider. Are we correct. It is on the corner of our deck door… should we leave it be? Do the markings mean anything?
dlhickory

Golden Orbweaver

Dear dlhickory,
This is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, a spider frequently called a Writing Spider because of the zigzag stabilimentum it weaves into its web (See BugGuide).  We don’t know where you got the information about the Orchid Spider because it is not on our website, and a web search of those terms brings up information on spider orchids.

Letter 9 – Golden Orbweaver

 

not a spider expert by no means lol
Location:  Mississippi
August 23, 2010 2:21 pm
I was in the backyard and stumbled across this spider, was just curious as to what it was. When I first saw it, it appeared to have parts of its legs and body glowing a neon green color, when I grabbed my camera it had stopped glowing, apparently having no more need for it as it found it’s lunch.
It’s web was also huge and worthy of note as well.
Ox_King

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Ox_King,
Your spider,
Argiope aurantia, has several common names including Golden Orbweaver.  We have never heard of a Golden Orbweaver glowing, and we suspect it was an optical illusion caused by light striking the exceptional coloration of this spectacular spider.

Letter 10 – Golden Orbweaver

 

City Spider?
Location: Philadelphia, PA
December 20, 2010 10:29 am
Hey! Found this spider in my backyard in Philly. Amazing web. It was about 2 inches long. Huge for the city! What is it?
Signature: Thanks! Terri

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Terri,
This gorgeous spider is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, and we are amazed that you had a sighting this late in the season in Pennsylvania.

Letter 11 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Black-and-Yellow (St. Andrews Cross) spider egg sacs
Location: San Antonio, TX
January 19, 2011 3:38 pm
No ID needed. I know what these are, thanks to your site a few years back, but I had to attach a photo to get the query to SEND. I am requesting some info, now, though. — I collected several ”jar” egg sacs which were made by some very big and beautiful Black-and-Yellow spiders. The exterminator was gong to blast them (the sacs; the mothers have already passed on with the weather). They were in Floresville, TX, and are now clothes-pinned to my patio plants here in San Antonio. I’d really like to know how to protect them and keep the babies inside safe over winter and have them come out in the Spring and populate my yard. What will they need to survive? I understand the babies hang around the ”jar” for the first few days, then disperse. Would it be good to house them in some kind of spider nursery (if so, please could you suggest something)? Is dangling and moving in the wind going to disturb the babies? The ”jars” w ere securely stitched into immobility under the eaves at the ranchhouse where the mother spiders put them. Would very much appreciate any and all info you can offer. — LOVE your site. Thank you for all the good you do for insects, bugs, and all.
Signature: sooz in San Antonio

Golden Orbweaver

Dear sooz,
We are very happy you attached an image.  First, we would much rather post a letter with an image than without one, and second, you have misidentified your spider.  The St
. Andrew’s Cross Spider, Argiope keyserlingii, to the best of our knowledge, has not been found in North America.  It is an Australian species that has a unique X shaped stabilimentum, the zigzag pattern that is woven into the web.  You can see images of the spider and its stabilimentum on the Brisbane Insect website.  Your spider is in the same genus, so the mistake is understandable.  Your spider is a Golden Orbweaver, Argiope aurantia, and its stabilimentum is different.  You can see images in our archives and on BugGuide.  You should keep the eggsacs in a protected location away from the wind and predators like birds, but make sure that they are kept at approximately the outside temperature.  Perhaps a paper bag or a cardboard box left open in a sheltered area of the patio or unheated garage would suffice.

THANK YOU!  And I’m glad to have their correct name.  One last question (OK, two):  What can I expect when the babies emerge?  And when should I expect them? — Thanks again!

When the spiderlings emerge in the spring, you can expect a crawling mass that will soon seek higher ground.  The spiderlings will then each release a strand of silk to catch the wind and they will begin to balloon away.  This is how they disperse, ensuring that the entire brood does not remain in a single location competing with one another for the food supply.  The wind is actually capable of carrying the young spiderlings a considerable distance.

Letter 12 – Golden Orbweaver

 

black and yellow spider
Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
August 10, 2011 1:25 pm
My husband and I live in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. We found this spider in a pot of plants on our back deck. I think she’s beautiful and have left her alone except to take some pictures. I was content with her presence and still am, but today I went to look at her and noticed that she had molted!! She is now double the size she was before. I had no idea spiders molted and now I’m even more curious about her. Could you identify her for me?
Signature: K. Ryder

Golden Orbweaver

Dear K. Ryder,
The best way to identify a creature is by its scientific name because that cuts across all language barriers.  This lovely spider is
Argiope aurantia, and it has numerous common names in English, including Golden Orbweaver, Black and Yellow Orbweaver, and Writing Spider, a name that refers to the zigzag stabilimentum that the spider weaves into its web.  Your individual is a female.  Males are much smaller.  You can see this recent posting for a photo of the diminutive male.  All creatures with exoskeletons, including insects, spiders, scorpions and centipedes, shed their skin and molt to increase their size.  The Golden Orbweaver is not an aggressive species, and the bite is not considered dangerous, however, we imagine if a large female decided to bite a person, it would hurt and be followed by some local swelling. 

Letter 13 – Golden Orbweaver

 

gorgeous spider
Location: Eastern Kentucky
September 15, 2011 8:55 pm
I found this beautiful spider weaving a very intricate web outside my chicken house. I think it is a golden orb weaver, but would love clarification…
Signature: Amber

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Amber,
Thanks for appreciating the beauty in the female Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia.  Your photo is a marvelous addition to our website.

Letter 14 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Orb weaver?
Geographic location of the bug:  Kansas City, Ks
Date: 08/15/2021
Time: 09:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Mr. Bugman,
I was told that this is a golden orb weaver. I’ve seen them for the last two years, but this one is by far the largest one. I believe she’s doubled in size since last year. There are smaller males’ webs in close proximity to hers. This web pattern in front of her is new, however. What is she, and what is that pattern? What does she eat? They’re usually ok if I leave them alone, but are they dangerous to humans and dogs?
How you want your letter signed:  Sincerely, Dorothy from Kansas

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Dorothy from Kansas,
This is indeed a Golden Orbweaver.  This Orbweaver is not the same as the one you observed last year.  Orbweavers survive a single season, and the individual in your image was hatched earlier this year.  The pattern in the web is known as a stabilimentum and Orbweavers that incorporate a stabilimentum in the web are sometimes called Writing Spiders.  Orbweavers are not hunters.  They will eat anything that they trap in the web that they are able to subdue.  There are even images of large Orbweavers feeding on Hummingbirds, but this is not a common occurrence. 

Letter 15 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Pale golden orb weaver
Geographic location of the bug:  Wichita kansas
Date: 09/02/2021
Time: 02:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I just found your web site I thank I have a pale golden orb weaver it was found outside my tire shop its markings are interesting I will have more pictures if you would like more
How you want your letter signed:  Ricky barber

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Ricky,
This is a Golden Orbweaver, and there is always individual variation between members of a given species.  Her coloration is lighter than what we see on the average Golden Orbweaver.

Letter 16 – Golden Orbweaver guards her egg sac

 

Subject: Golden Orbweaver. I think…
Location: western mass
September 27, 2012 2:29 pm
Just saw this hanging out on a set of stairs. Thought it looked cool.
Signature: EJF

Golden Orbweaver guards her egg sac

Dear EJF,
Thanks for sending us your photo of this handsome female Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, guarding her egg sac.  The Golden Orbweaver is a harmless species, though like many spiders, it is possible that they might be provoked into biting through careless handling.  Now that autumn has arrived and Orbweavers are reaching maturity, we expect to get numerous identification requests.

I was not 100% on it, but thought I was right. Lol. Anyway, I thought you guys would like that pic. Glad you did like it. Preston.

Letter 17 – Golden Orbweaver Lays Eggs

 

Golden Orb identified
Location: Spring, TX
December 18, 2011 1:44 am
Dear Mr. Bugman,
Thanks to your site and past archives, I’ve think I’ve identified my backdoor friend. I’ve got lots of pictures of her, but this is my latest AND COOLEST! I’m assuming she’s laying her eggs and wrapping them in sort of protection?? I’ll attach pictures first, but would like to know if you take video clips as well? I have her in action!
Signature: Thanks, Melanie

Golden Orbweaver Laying Eggs

Hi Melanie,
Thank you for sending us your images of a Golden Orbweaver laying her eggs.  She protects the clutch in a thick silken sac that helps the eggs to withstand the elements in harsher climates.  Your post will go live during a brief holiday from the office.

Golden Orbweaver laying Eggs

Letter 18 – Golden Orbweaver with Prey

 

Subject: Is it a Golden Orb Weaver with Prey?
Location: Washington-on-the-Brazos; Washington County, Texas
September 7, 2014 8:47 pm
Hello,
We visited the beautiful and historic Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park today, and saw this large spider hanging from the porch roof at the home of the fourth (and last) President of the Republic of Texas, Doctor Anson Jones.
The docent said she had been told this is a banana spider with an egg sac. I believe it may be a Golden Orb Weaver with wrapped prey, but I didn’t want to disagree with the kind woman donating her time as docent, especially since I have very limited knowledge of the subject.
I don’t know what the possible prey is, perhaps bumble bees (there were many).
Thank you for any information. I appreciate your help.
Signature: Ellen

Golden Orbweaver with Prey
Golden Orbweaver with Prey

Hi Ellen,
We agree with your identification and we believe the docent is wrong, though common names often apply to numerous different, often unrelated species, and we have never heard Golden Orbweavers called Banana Spiders.  There are two different species that we know of that are called Banana Spiders:  the Golden Silk Spider,
Nephila clavipes, and a Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria.  The zigzag pattern in the web, known as a stabilimentum, is characteristic of the Golden OrbweaverArgiope aurantia.

Golden Orbweaver with Prey
Golden Orbweaver with Prey

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

31 thoughts on “Yellow Garden Spider vs Golden Orb Weaver: Ultimate Arachnid Showdown”

    • We also suspected the same, but we hate making assumptions about our reader’s letters. We were hoping dlhickory would write with a clarification.

      Reply
  1. We have one directly outside our guest room window! She caught a Katydid the same size as herself the other day.
    The coolest thing she does though is wobble her whole web back and forth quickly when someone gets close to her web. Not sure if it is meant to confuse or threaten or frighten potential predators, but it is cool. 🙂

    Reply
  2. I was perusing your site and got curious about this. I did some digging and found a paper at bio-nica.info (here: http://www.bio-nica.info/biblioteca/Tso2006SpidersColorful.pdf) and they gave the Orchid Spider’s proper name as Leucauge magnifica. Not sure if that helps but thought I’d let you know what I found. =) I tried looking for pictures as well, but all of the ones I found of a high enough resolution to actually attempt a decent identification were labeled as Orchid Spiders and were actually Orchard Spiders.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the link. We agree with you that the Orchid Spider is probably a mistake and that the Orchard Spider is the indicated species.

      Reply
  3. I love your advice to the one seeking info! Too many people are ignorant about these creatures and kill on sight, a lack of education or willingness to educate themselves is mostly to blame. I have an extreme phobia of spiders, but still educate myself about the various species I find outside my home. I do not kill outdoor spiders, that is their habit. Anything in my home might get whacked though. Good thing these beauties stay outside!

    Reply
  4. We have been watching one for at least a month, right outside our living room window. Today, after a hard rain, a wasp came looking for her. She hid from it as usual, and we thought it was gone. A short while later, she was just hanging by a thread, dangling from the bush. I went out and put her back in the bush, but she’s not moving. Is she dead? Any chance she’s just paralyzed from a single sting? We are devastated. Her egg sack seems safe though. Will they be OK?

    Reply
    • We are unable to speculate on what actually happened. Orbweavers only live a single season. A wasp would not sting and leave a spider behind, unless the wasp was frightened off after stinging the spider. The eggs should hatch in the spring.

      Reply
  5. Great information. Thank you! We love watching these spiders around our home in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. We currently have two egg sacs we are watching. Unsure if they’re from the same mother or not, but we haven’t seen either mother recently. Is it common for the mother to travel very far to make multiple egg sacs? Or are they relatively close to one another? Will she keep an eye on all of them?

    Reply
  6. I have two orb weavers and one has put her egg sack at the top of my living room window out in the open. I live in SW Virginia and it gets cold soon. Will they hatch soon or in the spring and if in the spring will they be safe or do I need to put something to protect them.

    Reply
  7. I found this thread by looking up what a banana spider egg sac looks like and it’s so awesome that your picture looks exactly the same and it is also the same day! I’m looking at my spider (her name is Theresa) right now here in Georgia and I was wondering what that mushroom looking thing was against the wall and figured it was her eggs. I’m sad she has to die she eats so many Mosquitoes but at least her babies will be here in the spring. Thank you for this thread and thank you for reading.

    Reply
  8. My orb spider was very large. She was a black and silver in color. She has left 5 egg sacs. They are the creamy golden color. Since in Texas will they hatch now or in our March spring?

    Reply
  9. A spider laid one of these on my back sliding door. I’d rather not harm it, but it would be helpful to move it to clean the door! Is there a safe way to move the sac, and is there a preferable new location to choose? We live in the Midwestern US, so it will be cold and snowy over the winter.

    Reply
  10. Hi,
    We’ve had argiope aurantia by our front door for about a month and it gave birth last night against our living room window. We can see the eggs inside. It is very neat.
    I’ve been trying to figure out how long it will be until they hatch, but I’m confused. Could you help?

    Reply

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