I know, believe me, I know the "ick" factor is pretty high here. No one cringes from spiders more than me but, I do find this particular spider beautiful and interesting. The Argiope aurantia is commonly known as Black and Yellow Garden Spider or Yellow Garden Spider. This is a female. The males are much smaller and colored a dull brown. Argiopes are orb-weavers, meaning they build a circular web. She hangs upside down in the center of the web waiting for a tasty morsel to fly into the web. She usually consumes and rebuilds her web each night. The zig-zag pattern woven into the web is known as the stabilimenta and is made from a special silk that reflects UV light differently than the rest of the web. It is believed to attract prey. She will not survive the winter here in Kansas. She will be killed by the first hard frost.
When I first discovered her, she only had a leg-span (top to bottom) of half an inch. She picked the perfect spot to build her web. It spans the space between three large container plants on my patio. She must be doing a good job of protecting my plants from harm because she has grown to 3" now (toe to toe). I check on her each morning and after every storm to be sure she is still there guarding my garden. Actually, I can keep my sanity only if I know where she is at all times. You know, it's that time of year when orb-weavers build webs in the most inconvenient places, seemingly always at head level, and we unsuspecting humans tend to walk right into them. Yuck! I hate spider surprises. If she disappears from her usual spot, I will be forced to stay indoors until the first hard frost when I know it will be safe to venture out again.