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Monday, April 19, 2010

Charlotte's Web

In the summer of 2007, before my husband and I got married and bought the house we're in now, I walked out to the patio of my previous house one day and nearly had a heart attack when I saw this right outside the bedroom window.

I'm not what you would call a spider lover (in fact, I border on arachnophobic) but this spider had me fascinated. It had spun its web between the window and the large palm I had in the corner of the patio.

A quick bit of investigation and I had it identified as a Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia). They are also known as Garden spiders and Writing spiders (named for that zig zig pattern you can see in the web.)

Because of it's size -- the body was over an inch long and it's total span was three inches or more -- I believe it was female. I called her, naturally, Charlotte.

Charlotte was in residence for a couple of weeks, during which time she took up pest control duties on the patio. 
 Even a large cricket like this was no match for her.

Even more impressive seen through the window screen!

If I hadn't have witnessed this with my own eyes and camera, I never would have believed it possible!

Sadly, I came home from work one day to see a little flag in the front yard, indicating my pest control service had been by.  My heart sunk as I went out to the patio, knowing what I would find. 

Charlotte and her web were gone.

While I appreciate that pest control is necessary if you don't want your house overrun with roaches, or eaten from the inside by termites, but I do wish they had left Charlotte and her web alone.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


leavesnbloom said...

We certainly are not used to seeing spiders like that in the UK. I ignore spiders when they are in the house - sadly the boys don't if they get upstairs and sometimes I see the remains on the walls that I then have to clean. That is one strong spider if its able to catch a cricket - and its such an artistic one weaving that wonderful zigzag design. Its a pity it got caught by the pest control as it must have been interesting watching Charlottes antics each day - but at least you know that the pest company do a through job!

Jayne said...

Hi Rosie, I'm originally from England myself, so this was the first time I had ever seen anything like this spider! I was actually able to overcome my fear of spiders because of my fascination with her. I was so sorry to see her go, but perhaps, in our new house, another will stop by for a visit. If one does, I'll be sure to tell the pest control company to leave it alone!

Kathleen Scott said...

I LOVE those spiders! I thought it was a golden orb spider, nice to learn about it. We see them here in the Hill Country too.

Since the attic was rid of scorpions, we've done without pest services. I'm inclined to think they eliminate as many good bugs as bad. Our foundation is patrolled by lizards and porches by walking sticks and others who do a good job of the bugs I don't want.

Jayne said...

Hi Kathleen. I thought it was a Golden Orb spider too at first. Then I found this page: and am pretty confident that it's an argiope. I've also been considering dropping our pest control. As you say, they get the good bugs as well as the bad. I felt really bad when I saw what happened to Charlotte and I fear the same may have happened to a walking stick and his lady friend that I saw on our patio last year. My husband resists the idea of dropping the service though.

Lancashire rose said...

I also have these spiders in my garden. Not so far this year but they will be around soon. We call them zipper spiders. Towards the end of the year they make a large paper like sac and attach it to the wall or other solid surface. In it will be a new generation of spiders- hundreds of them. They sometimes make their webs in very annoying places but I don't mind them. I am very tolerant of spiders. We have small ones in the house and they do a fine job of catching anything that comes in, including scorpions. We don't do much in the way of pest control. I'm more concerned about breathing in all that stuff.

Jessica said...

This seems to be a great site which offers Pest Control Austin, Bed Bugs Texas, Bed Bugs Austin, Bed Bugs Dallas, Bed Bugs Houston etc. and i would surely like to try their service...i had been relying on earlier and they too offered good stuff.

Jayne said...

I love that name for a pest control company Jessica, lol!

Building Inspections Gold Coast said...

They look good in the pictures but i really have a great fear of all those spiders.