Guest post by Sydney Glass, Integrated Pest Management Intern.
The insect of the week is not an insect, but is a spider. The Argiope spider is also known as the black and yellow garden spider, the zipper spider, the corn spider, the writing spider, as well as several other names.
The Argiope is fairly large, about 3 inches. The spider is yellow with black, silver and yellow stripes and silver hairs.
WHERE TO FIND THEM:
The Argiope builds webs in open fields, tall grass, and other similar climates. It prefers dry places. The web will, for the most, part be invisible except for what looks like a thick white string that can be in an “x” pattern, or will weave back and forth like a zipper. The spider will rest in the center of the web unless tending to prey. The zig-zag in the web is thought to alert large animals to avoid the web, as well as it reflects certain ultraviolet rays, causing insects to be attracted to the color and pattern.
The bite of the Argiope is not toxic, but it can be painful.
Here is some information from the Texas A&M Extension Service on the Argiope
Here is information from Master Gardeners of Galveston County.
On another note, yes we identify insects that are unknown, but spiders are not insects and this is an insect identification help blog.