— BugsInTheNews is a VIEWER-PARTICIPANT WEBSITE. This article by Jerry Cates, Marvin W. (Kempner, TX), and Graham M. (East Texas), first published on 11 February 2011, was revised last on 7 July 2012. © Bugsinthenews Vol. 12:02(07)
This genus (Argiope) of common orb weaver spiders (in the Araneidae family) is found worldwide and includes 76 known species.
Five of these species are found in North America, three of which are depicted here in the photos of their dorsal bodies. The three are relatively common and, when present, tend to be very visible to the casual observer.
As the females grow relatively large, and produce broad, spectacular webs, they tend to conflict with human activities when forced into close quarters. Since humans tend to win such conflicts, these spiders generally don’t hitchhike well on maritime or aerial vessels.
As a result, most species are found within a relatively limited locale. The banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata) is an exception, being distributed around the world. The silver garden spider (Argiope argentata) is found in the southern U.S., from California to Florida, and southward through Mexico, Central America, and the northern portion of South America, as far south as Argentina. The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is common throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states, southern Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, and Central America.
The generic name, Argiope, was first described in 1827 by the French naturalist Jean Victoire Audouin (1797-1841) , who attributed the epithet to a colleague, Marie Jules Cesar Savigny, and variously spelled it Argyope in the French format. The word is from a Greek proper name, Αργιóπη. Though the name is used for four figures from Greek mythology, it translates to “silver face,” or “bright (white) face,” and is a reference to the fact that the carapace of these spiders is brightly clothed in silvery white hairs.
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