by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation
With the colder weather continuing, we won’t be seeing to many spiders in the upcoming months (not outdoors, anyway. In your house is another matter entirely). For now, though, take a look at this lovely lady photographed outside museum associate Dave Dahm’s house:
This is a banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata), and it’s the largest of the orb-weaving spiders in Colorado. You’re most likely to see banded garden spiders sitting in their beautiful, symmetrical orb webs in late summer and early fall, and if you do see one chances are very good it’s a female. Females are silvery with dark and yellow striping, while males are much smaller and rarely seen.
Banded garden spiders catch flying insects in the webs, biting their prey to paralyze it and then wrapping it in silk.
As it continues to get even colder, the species will overwinter either as eggs in a large sack (up to 1000 eggs per sack!) or as tiny spiderlings hidden in foliage. The young spiders move around by “ballooning,” deploying threads of silk to be caught by the breeze. If this sounds familiar, you might remember the baby spiders doing something similar in Charlotte’s Web.
And in case you thought spiderlings were the only insects flying high above you, check out this story on The Billion-Bug Highway.
Are there any insects you’re still seeing out and about?
All images c/o Dave Dahms