Spiderweb That Always Faces East and West

The Banded Garden Spider is a large and colorful Spider that inhabits our gardens and yards here in Nashville, Tennessee. They can be beneficial by controlling numbers of grasshoppers and cicadas and really don’t cause us any problems. Actually they are nice to have around, just for their natural beauty.

Banded Garden Spiders have a body length of up to ¼” long and a complete diameter of one inch when their legs are fully extended. The females are almost twice the than the males. They are colorful with a pattern of yellow with black and white bands on their bodies and extents of their legs. They have wide abdomens and a neck covered in fine silver hair. The males actually have large bumps on the sides of their heads that they use when mating to fertilize the female. Sort of a weird spot for sperm to be expelled, but that is how they do things.

The Banded Garden Spider is an orb weaver, and can generally be identified by their orb being constructed low to the ground between bushes, branches or tall grass. This is due to the diet that they intend to catch; grasshoppers, katydids and even wasps. Like many other orb weavers they begin with anchor lines to begin the circular pattern that they will attach once anchored. They will use a combination of sticky and non sticky silk for ease of movement across their own web. Then the Banded Garden Spider always spins a thick silk zigzag pattern in the very middle. Because we do not have vision like other insects, we cannot understand why the web and spider go unnoticed, however the zigzag pattern stands out as a source of food for their prey. Many other spiders also build their web, and then stay to the side waiting for vibrations, but not the Banded Garden Spider. They hang put in the middle of the web. Once prey has been caught in the sticky silk they have been known to shake their web to stick the prey into their web even more secure before they go in for the kill. They wrap up the captured insect in a heavy coating of silk and then use their fangs to inject the venom that kills them. The venom also acts as a dissolving chemical to make an easy to eat more liquid meal.

The most interesting thing about a Banded Garden Spiders web is that they usually build in the same direction. As a matter of fact you could use their web to establish East and West. In almost all situations the orb is positioned East to West in order to capture as much sun on their body as possible for body warmth, with the Spider always hanging with their black underbodies towards the sun. It is also thought that this positioning would help with keeping their webs in place safe from wind that generally blows West. It is interesting that these Spiders, that have poor sight and rely heavily on feel, can reliably build their webs in the same direction, every time.

Eggs hatch and small spiders emerge in the Spring to grow to adults, build webs and wait for a male. The males actively look for the webs and wait for the female by vibrating her web so she knows that he is there and waiting at the edge of her web. They then mate during late summer to fall with the female then making egg sacs that can contain up to one thousand eggs per sac. She is capable of making two to three egg sacs (that is a lot of babies).  She remains beside her babies and guards them from predators with that venomous bite. They live from birth to the first freeze with the next generation overwintering in the egg sac for the next spring.

Banded Garden Spiders are not harmful to us, as they are not aggressive. They will only bite if they are repeatedly prodded and the venom is similar to a bee sting. Either way, just admire don’t bother this beautiful specimen as it is not a pest control issue that needs to be solved. If you are having issues with other spiders such as Brown Recluse or Black Widows please call Certified Pest Control Nashville to provide a free estimate and a solution to keep your home protected all year long. #local

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