There are three Argiope spider species in Spain. The above image is of the lobed argiope and you can clearly see the much smaller male above and to the left of her.
The Wasp Spider
- Scientific: Argiope bruennichi
- English: Wasp Spider
- Spanish: Araña tigre
- French: Argiope frelon
- German: Wespenspinne
- Italian: Ragno vespa
- Portuguese: Aranha-vespa
- Distribution: Southern, central and northern Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia.
This spider is easily recognised due the female’s large size and striking horizontal yellow, white and black stripes. Their legs are brown or blackish with darker rings. Often seen waiting in the centre of the web facing downwards with legs held in pairs. The male is much smaller, generally brown in colour with 2 variable darker brown stripes.
Living for one season, and most easily seen during summer and autumn when they reach adult size.The females measure 15-20 mm (½-¾ inch), the males measure a tiny 5 – 6 mm. (0.20”)
They create a large spiral web often with a central zigzag of thickened silk, this decoration is called stabilimenta. The web is built in open areas between shrubs or grasses and is made at dusk or dawn, usually a little above ground level and takes about an hour.
When the prey first touches the web, the spider quickly wraps it completely in silk thread. The prey is later bitten, injecting a paralysing venom and a protein dissolving enzyme that aids digestion. Food supply is generally grasshoppers and flying insects.
Often you can see a much smaller male near the female web waiting for her to complete her final moult, which is when she reaches sexual maturity. At that time her chelicerae remain soft for a short period allowing the male to mate without danger of being devoured. After mating, the female begins to increase in size. She places several hundred eggs into silk containers in late autumn. The next generation overwinter as eggs or tiny spiders inside the ootheca.
The Lobed Argiope
- Scientific: Argiope lobata
- English: Lobed Argiope
- Spanish: Argiope lobulado
- French: Argiope lobée
- Portuguese: Tecedeira-lobada
- Distribution: Africa and stretching to southern Europe and into Asia.
Easily recognised by its wavy edged body, which is cream to silvery white in colour with black lateral lines marking the edge of each lobe. The long legs have light and dark rings. They pose facing downwards in the centre of the web.
Living for one season, and most easily seen during summer and autumn when they reach adult size. The adult female reaches 25 mm (1 inch) and the male a much smaller 6 mm (¼ inch).
Video of a lobed argiope wrapping up its prey
Great video from Robin Sharman showing a lobed argiope spider wrapping its prey for later consumption
They live in dry, low scrub and the web is large, up to 1m in diameter (3ft3 inches), resistant, built almost vertically and discreetly placed between bushes. It is often decorated by bands of thicker silk in a zigzag pattern at the centre, a structure that is called stabilimenta.
Often you can see a male near the female web waiting for her to complete her final moult, which is when she reaches sexual maturity. At that time her chelicerae remain soft for a short period allowing the male to mate without danger of being devoured. After mating, the female begins to increase in size. She places several hundred eggs into silk containers in late autumn. The next generation overwinter as eggs or tiny spiders inside the ootheca.
The Banded Argiope – Argiope trifasciata
Argiope trifasciata (the banded garden spider or banded orb weaving spider is a species of spider native to North and South America, but now found in many places around the world.
Easily confused with the wasp spider (Argiope bruennichi)
Images of the banded argiope from wikipedia By Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30210363
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