We’ve got a visitor staying with us. Well, she’s actually made her home with us for some time. She’s a writer, like me… and a sewer, like my mother. Her name is Argiope. Here’s a picture of some of her work:

I’ll leave her out of the picture, for the sake of those of you who might be a little skittish around her. But you can scroll to the bottom of the post, below the WWWWWWW, to see our lovely Argiope!

Have you guessed? Argiope is a garden spider, quite a big one, in fact. Ours is plum-sized with her legs outstretched. The Argiope spider (not sure which specific variety she is) is a large, harmless spider, with vivid black-and-yellow markings. Wikipedia tells me that they can eat prey twice their size, and one variety has been known to eat a bat!

Ours sits with her legs paired in an X (which is why Australians call her the St. Andrew’s Cross spider). She’s also known as the “writing spider” or the “sewing machine spider,” due to the markings she makes in her web. We tend to get an Argiope every so often, and I always look forward to seeing the designs she spins.

I recently noticed that we had an Argiope spider on the back fence. She’d written a message on the web, something like CVWJZVX. I went to get the camera, but it wasn’t working. A few days later, she’d wrapped up an egg case and disappeared….

Maybe a week or so later, I noticed that Argiope (or perhaps her daughter?) had reappeared, this time on the window screen. Now her web markings look more like the traditional zigzag: ZZZZZZZ or VVVVVVVVVVVVV. But the one I managed to capture above still has the quality of handwriting. I can imagine her working to produce the words, “SOME PIG.”

We’re getting some cold weather these days; I don’t know where Argiope goes on those cold nights (as long as it’s not inside the house!). But I hope her eggs winter over all right and we can look forward to more cryptic messages next spring.

Here are two photos for you. The first one is “our” Argiope, who sits on the inside of her web, between the web and the window screen, so you can only see her underside. The second one is a stock photo. Neither one really does justice to the beautiful coloration of this small but mighty writer. Okay, now only scroll below the line if you are ready for a glorious spider!

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from forestryimages.org

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