Help Identify This Spider

My wife killed a fairly large spider, about 2-1/2" dia. overall.
Dark or black with some yellow or gold coloring
It was in the central portion of a non-typical web which had white ladder like markings about 3/8" wide, 1/8’ high. All together 3 or 4" high.
Any help or suggestions welcome, Thanks,


Was this the spider?


A fantastic site for identifying those pesky bugs is . It’s facinating and some of the amateur photography’s pretty good, too.

If it is, in fact, the spider in LostGoals’s link, it is commonly referred to around here as a writing spider.

We concluded it was an Argiope.
The “ladder” it the web was very pronounced.
Thanks to all for the help.

Don’t know if you’re paying attention to the thread anymore, but the Argiope aurantia would have been my guess, too.

We called them “garden spiders” on the farm. Don’t know why your wife killed it, but they are good for eating other pesky insects, and should be left to prosper.

We had one summer with one in our front window (the webs–spiral orb type–are more than a foot in diameter), and I used to catch grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects and toss them into the web just to watch the spider wrap them up.

I notice that the website linked mentions that the function of the zigzag structures (which they call “stabilimenta”) is not entirely understood.

I find this a bit odd, since I remember reading years ago that they found the particular kind of silk used to weave these things is much more visible in the ultraviolet spectrum than the rest of the web, and thus acts as a lure to insects (which see the zigzag, but not the rest of the web). I thought this question had been settled years ago (IIRC, I read it in an issue of the Smithsonian magazine…but it would have been close to 20 years ago).

Still, cool spider, and should not be killed. The males are small and brown, by the way. It’s the females that are big and black&gold. Let 'em live.

And I could swear I’d heard that the zigzags were not lures for insects, but a visual cue so that birds wouldn’t fly through the web and force the spider to build the damn thing all over again. So now I’m all confused.

Always thought that the males spun those thicker, zigzag threads when they were in the mood for a little spider love.