Dani Barchana, Bugwood.org
Banded garden spiders are not as commonly encountered in Pennsylvania as yellow garden spiders, although they inhabit similar locations. Where the habitat is favorable, this spider is found throughout the United States.
The males are 4 to 5 millimeters in length and their abdomens are mostly white. The immature banded garden spiders also have a mostly white dorsal surface of the abdomen. The egg cocoon is similar in texture and color as that of the yellow garden spider, but it is shaped more like a kettledrum.
The web is similar in size and shape to that of the yellow garden spider. It is not uncommon for the stabilimentum to be absent or have variability in shape.
Banded garden spider adults can be found from mid- to late summer through the first freeze. Egg cocoons are deposited in early fall and consist of several hundred eggs. The immature spiders emerge the following spring.
A behavioral study of web construction determined that the majority of Argiope trifasciata orient their webs along an east-to-west axis. The spiders hang head-down in the center of the web with their abdomens facing south. Since the underside (venter) of the spider is mostly black, the orientation of both web and spider is believed to maximize solar radiation for heat gain--an important consideration for spiders that are active late in the year.
Similar to their cousin Argiope spiders, the banded garden spiders are not known to be medically important. It is unlikely that bites would occur unless people handled a female with an egg cocoon in the web. Even then, the bite would likely cause no more discomfort in most individuals than that of a wasp or bee sting.
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Authored by: Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate
March 2002 Revised 2015