“Gasteracanth, or the Orb-Weaver Spider, is the third-largest family of spiders after the Jumping and Sheath-Weaving spider families. Their common name is taken from the round shape of their webs.”
We have three Orb-Weaver spiders living on the porch of our house. Their webs are gorgeous and perfect; I have seen them in the morning sparkling with dew and they are very picturesque. I have, appropriately so, named them after characters in the book Charlotte’s Web: Charlotte, Wilbur, and Templeton. Normally, I’d be somewhat skeeved out by playing host to so many spiders, but considering how many moths and other bugs our porch light attracts, I’m very open to this natural form of insecticide.
Wilbur and Templeton look like this. I can’t find a specific name for the species except Garden Orb Weaver. They’re about the size of a half-dollar, maybe a little smaller.
Wilbur was probably the first spider to take up residence on our porch. I first noticed him when he had made a web in the space in between two bushes off to the right of the porch. The next day or so, he decided to build a web between two bushes in the space over the sidewalk that goes in between our porch and the street. I was able to walk underneath his web without disturbing it, but my SO was not so lucky: he didn’t notice the web and it was almost exactly at face level, so he got a face full of spiderweb on his way off the porch. I’m usually the only one who parks on the street, so it wasn’t an issue for me to leave the spider where he was.
Templeton moved in a few nights after Wilbur had established himself. Templeton lives on the west side of the porch, where the porch overhang meets the house. During the day, he likes to curl up and sleep on the underside of the porch overhang and in the evening time, he methodically makes his web and leaves very little room to walk off the porch to the garage. My SO and a friend of mine have both gotten a face full of spiderweb courtesy of Templeton, and both shrieked like little girls. My SO has threatened to displace the spider and I have prevented this, claiming that Templeton is in the best location to catch unsuspecting moths as they fly to the porch light.
Charlotte is a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope Aurantia). She and Templeton settled on our porch at the same time, but she came into my life in a more startling way. She had made a web on my screen door and I had to sloooowly open the door to avoid disturbing her. She is much bigger and leggier than the Boys are, and scrabbles around in a very unsettling way. I know for certain that she is a female spider because females of this species are three times bigger than the males and have more showy coloring. Her web is interesting because of the zig-zag pattern in between the spokes of the web; apparently, they use them to attract prey. Charlotte tried to settle down on the door which, really, is an inconvenient place to have a spider’s home; the SO and I were wondering what to do with her on the second day when she fell off the door onto the porch. I didn’t want to risk stepping on her (or, God forbid, have her come inside) so I escorted her off to the front steps of the porch with a piece of paper. We found her the next day settled in a bush on the west side of the porch (near where Templeton lives) but unfortunately, we haven’t seen her in a few days. I suspect the worst.