home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Argiope (garden spiders)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha > Family: Araneidae

Argiope is one of the most familiar genera of orb web spiders. Being diurnal, garden spiders are colourfully marked, the carapace silver and the legs banded. The aposematic (warning) yellow and black colouration of the abdomen remind birds that they are unpalatable.

The Argiope web normally has two zig-zag bands of silk radiating outwards from the hub (centre) to the bottom corners of the web. There may be four of these bands in some species while some juveniles may construct a spiral. These are called stabilimenta and serve various functions; stabilize and strengthen the web, make the web visible perhaps serving as a decoy for birds, or also to reflect ultraviolet light thereby deceiving and attracting insects.

The spider sits head down with its legs positioned in pairs, forming a cross with the two anterior (front) pairs resting on the stabilimenta.

"Argiope" means "silver face" with reference to the silver prosoma and may refer to a Greek mythological person.

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Argiope anomalopalpis


Argiope aurocincta


Argiope australis

Argiope australis (25mm body length) has a scalloped abdomen with yellow and black bands. On the Cape Peninsula some spiders have orange and black bands. Argiope australis occurs over most of Africa except in forests from South Africa northwards to north-east Africa. It is commonly seen from about January to June on its web amongst low base vegetation, within a metre from the ground. Males are tiny, measuring 5.5mm, and can often be seen in or near the females web. Juvenile females appear to have a more slender build.

Garden spider, Argiope australis. Photo H. Robertson

Argiope flavipalpis


Argiope levii


Argiope lobata

Argiope trifasciata

Text and images by Norman Larsen .