Obviously I didn't learn my lesson about moving plants in August, because I was at it again tonight. I'm trading two of my extra hosta for starts of two (or maybe three) from the large plant bed at work. I'm excited, because I am getting a chunk from the huge 'Sum and Substance,' the shapely and upright 'Krossa Regal,' and maybe even the small, rounded, satisfyingly dark green hosta that I have yet to identify.
I was digging up one of my trades when the cuff of my jeans snagged an anchor of a very large spider web. This poor girl got taken for a ride as my careless step caused her to swing back and forth... I marveled at how strong and elastic her web proved to be. It even stood up to my clumsiness a few more times when I brought the camera back and began to circle her, looking for a good shot.
She's a common garden spider, and I remember reading in a recent blog posting that she's a black-and-yellow orb weaver, argiope aurantia. (I wish I remembered who blogged about her, so I could provide a link as well as go back and read it myself, but I'm just not that sharp tonight.)
I say "she" when referring to this spider because the females grow quite a bit larger than the males, who top out around 3/8 of an inch, and this spider's body was almost 3/4 of an inch. With her legs included, she easily measured 1-1/2 inches or more.
I never did get a great shot of her from the front, but if you want to see a really wonderful close-up view, check out this one that Yvonne posted last week. The pic of her underside is neat, though... her markings are even more intricate there.
What I found fascinating in researching them online was that they have 3 claws on each foot to help them handle the silk while weaving--I never really thought about spiders having claws before.
She's not as threatening as that sounds, or as she looks, though. Their venom does not really affect humans and they will only bite people if they're being harassed. They catch everything from aphids on up in their webs, and have even been known to take out a grasshopper or two. Spiders generally make good garden allies, so I'll be leaving her anchors--er, the dead sunflower stalks--standing until she leaves or is eaten by the birds!