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.
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.