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Orb weaving spiders common now

Spiders are a frequent sight during the summer. One of the most common groups noticed at this time of the year are the orb weavers.  Don't worry if you seen one, they do not harm people.

A typical orb weaver.  This one belongs
to the genus Araneus.  Photo: Jeff Hahn,
University of Minnesota Extension

Orb weavers are moderate to large in size; the length of their bodies range from ¼ inch to one inch. Orb weaver are typically shaped; they have a smallish head and a large, bulbous abdomen. They can vary in color; many are brownish but others can be brightly colored with red, yellow, or orange. You can also recognize these spiders by their webs.  They construct round, flat webs with spokes attached from the center to the outer part of the web, somewhat like a bicycle tire.

You can find orb weavers in a wide variety of sites from in your garden to around your home; anywhere they can attach their webbing. They particularly construct their webs where they are likely to find insects so they have a steady food supply. They do not have very good vision but can sense the movements of any insects that become trapped in their webs.

A black and yellow argiope.  This is
biggest orb weaver in Minnesota.
Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN Ext.
A group of particularly spectacular looking orb weavers are
the argiope (are-JYE-o-pee) spiders. The most common 
species in Minnesota is the black and yellow argiope. It has a body length of up to one inch long with orange and black legs, a white cephalothorax (the head and thorax are combined into one body part as opposed to insects where it is two separate body sections) and a black abdomen with yellow markings that kind of looks like flames.

Despite their size, argiope spiders are not aggressive or dangerous to people which is also true of all orb weavers. If you find an orb weaver in your garden or around you home, just leave it alone. Take the opportunity to observe it in its web as they are fascinating creatures. If you find one and are curious what it is, go to BugGuide and check out their pictures. The most common genus of orb weavers is Araneus.

Author: Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
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