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Wasp Spider, adult female.

Wasp Spider Andy

Wasp Spider & old Skin.

Female Wasp Spider Guarding Nest.

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Female Wasp Spider wrapping prey.

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Male & Female Wasp Spider.

Wasp Spider (Argiope Bruennichi)

I probably have more photographs of this orb web spider than any other taken in the wild, this species is originally from continental Europe. I have found these spiders on the edges of local lakes and forest paths, especially in wild unmanaged fields where only cattle graze. When found by members of the public it is often mistaken for a dangerous foreign spider especially with its distinctive black and yellow markings. Female spiders reach a size of 15mm.

I have photographed the males which are pale brown with a yellow abdomen and very small, looking like a different species of spider. It is said that the males will wait for the female to shed its skin before mating, knowing the jaws of the female are then too soft for her to eat him. I have not witnessed this but have photographed both female and male resting on the same web. Some spiders will offer a female food during mating to deter being eating. Their large webs are created from ground level in a gap in long grass and by looking for the vertical zigzag pattern of silk from the centre to the bottom of the web is always the easiest way to find them. The large females usually sit face down in middle of the web resting in the sunshine, when an insect is detected trapped in its web it moves at speed to capture its prey quickly wrapping it with silk often leaving it to eat later.

Wasp Spider, adult female.

Wasp Spider, adult female.

The wasp spider will always return to the centre of web resting just above the zigzag-shaped silk on its web. Their main diets is flies and especially grasshoppers, they will also tackle larger prey. I have seen one female eating a large bush cricket and another a bumble bee. At the end of summer before it turns cold the female makes a nest shaped like a pot, she will guard the nest for a few days to a week, not long after she will die. The nest is left to survive through the winter, which is probably why they do well in unmanaged fields. The siblings hatch in the spring. A lovely spider and well worth the trouble to observe or photograph in the wild.