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Insects and other arthropods

Garden spiders

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Description

Two species of garden spiders are found in Quebec: Argiope aurantia Lucas (the yellow garden spider) and Argiope trifasciata (the banded garden spider)

These large, brightly coloured spiders, which are often found immobile in the centre of their large web marked with a zigzag, are among the most beautiful and easiest spiders to recognize.

The yellow garden spider’s abdomen is black and yellow and pointed at one end. Sometimes its abdomen also features white, orange and red patches. Its legs are black and may have coloured stripes. Females are much larger than males. They measure between 19 and 28 mm long, while their partners are only 5 to 8 mm long.

The banded garden spider’s pale yellow abdomen has horizontal silver, yellow and black spots. This species is a bit smaller. Females measure between 15 to 25 mm long, while their partners are only 4 to 5.5 mm long.

Life cycle

After mating, female garden spiders spin one or several egg sacs, also called cocoons, to protect their eggs. Yellow garden spiders produce their egg sacs from late August to late September, while banded garden spiders spin theirs a bit later (October and November). They are spun from silk threads and covered with a protective layer that resembles a sheet of brown paper. Each cocoon contains hundreds of eggs.

Garden spiders’ eggs, like the eggs of other spiders, contain enough food (vitellus) for offspring to be born at an advanced stage of development. When they are ready to hatch, the young spiders have an egg tooth that makes it easier for them to pierce the shell. The first stages of a yellow garden spider’s life take place in the cocoon during the winter. The young spiders then leave their protective sac and disperse across their territory. Newborn spiders look like miniature adults except for certain sex characteristics. They grow during successive moults.

Geographic distribution

Both of our species live throughout the United States and in southern Canada. The yellow garden spider can be found all the way to Central America. The banded garden spider can be found all over the world, except for very cold areas.

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