A Few Favorite Texas Spiders

Around the old house in Portland, Texas, there are many niches where spiders hang out, doing what they do to bring down the numbers of insect pests. First, three color morphs of the same species, Gasteracantha crancriformis, which means “thorn-bellied crab-shaped,” pretty accurate I think. It’s sometimes called the Florida spider because it’s so common there, but I’d prefer thorn-bellied crab-shaped orb weaver. The genus is pretty much worldwide in warm climates.

Then there’s the huge Argiope spiders. The most common two seem to be Argiope aurantia, the golden garden spider, and Argiope argentata, the silver Argiope spider. Both make huge webs, sometimes across paths. The name Argiope is from the Greek, and refers to a nymph, the mother of Thamyris, a poet. But it means, “silver-faced.” This group also includes the orchard orb weaver, Leucauge venusta, smaller but beautiful in its own right. The name means “brightly gleaming elegant,” and according to at least one online source, is the only spider that Charles Darwin himself named.

Golden garden spider: Argiope aurantiaDSC00629

Silver Argiope: Argiope argentataDSC04704

Orchard orb weaver, Leucauge venustaDSC00631

And finally, a little crab spider, which I found on my hat. It is in the family Thomisidae, in or perhaps related to the genus Metepeira. I haven’t been able to identify this spider even with extensive searching. I need a more specific database on Thomisids. Watch for it on your hat (!) when you hike in Texas fields.Harlan's Hawk

Author: Samuel A. Johnson

This blog is about hiking, thinking, and writing.

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