Garden spider (
Argiope sp.)

Orb weavers belong to the family Araneidae (~2500 species).  A distinguishing characteristic of this family is the orb web which members construct to capture prey.  Orb weavers have poor vision and locate prey by feeling the vibration of the web. The orb weaver quickly restrains the prey with a wrapping of silk so that the web will not be destroyed.  The spider moves across the web by holding the silk with claw-like bristles on its legs.  The orb weaver produces an oil in its mouth and spreads this oil on the body, preventing it from sticking to its own web.  They paralyze their prey with venom and then crush it with their pedipalps (a set of mouthparts.)  Once the prey is crushed, the liquids in its body are consumed.  Spiders mate by males spinning small webs that they place sperm in, and then transfer the webs to the female. 

Availability: These need to be ordered and will be available after spring break.

Housing: Any container can be used to house them, as long as it is large enough for them to spin a web in.   Their webs can be quite large, so the larger the container, the better.  Spiders will move their webs if they feel that they are not catching enough prey where they are.  You will want a lid on the container, so they will not wander away into your closet or someplace else. 

Food: Any insect the same size as them or smaller can be tossed into their webs for food.