Thursday, May 01, 2008

St. Andrew's Cross Spider

In mid-March this spider took up residence under our front porch. It could have picked a more scenic location but I guess it chose the spot because it was well sheltered from the weather. I was instantly drawn to the colourful body of the spider and the unusual cross pattern it created at the centre of its web.

Note the cross pattern of the web

Luckily Maddie had a book on Australian spiders that had somehow (?) made its way into her collection of Bratz, Dr Seuss and other kiddie books. We were able to confirm that this was an Argiope aetherea, more commonly known in Australia as a St. Andrew's Cross Spider, a harmless garden spider. In North America, similar spiders are commonly known as "black and yellow garden spiders" or "writing spiders". In England and Europe spiders of this genus are known as "wasp spiders".

The egg sac

We noticed that behind the web was suspended what we believed to be an egg sac. Apparently, these egg sacs can contain between 400 to 1,400 eggs. I decided to check the egg sac every day to see if any spiders hatched.

New arrivals!

Sure enough, about 2 weeks later in early April, I awoke early one morning to find a mass of baby spiders surrounding the egg sac. By this time the mother had disappeared.

Aren't they cute? Click on the picture for a larger image.

It was lucky that I took this picture when I did because by that evening all the baby spiders had gone. Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to see some of them and their striking web designs around our garden when they have matured.

1 comment:

Diego Ruy said...

Hi, I live in Argentina, and my mother's garden usually has this kind of spiders. I remember them for their bright yellow colour (almost golden) and black, and for their paired legs (if you are far from the spider you only see 4 legs). I must say I have never seen the babies! Nice pics!