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.