Argiope ~ The Writing Spider

I try to be careful what I say to children. Careless words can unintentionally cause emotional scars that can last a long time.

My Mama was a good woman. Though she always felt, somehow, not good enough; she indeed was. Her unselfish deeds spoke of her goodness.

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More than one time, as a young child, I had a well meaning adult say to me, 'Son, you have a good mama. Always be good to her. One day she will be gone, and any wrong you have done to her cannot be undone'.

Of the whole advice, the words that rang loudest in my head were, 'one day she will be gone'. Often, at night, I cried silently. I never knew at what time I would be told, 'Son, your mama is gone. She will never return'.

That was a heavy burden for a young child to bear, especially when it was borne all alone. I never told anyone of my fear. It was a devil on my back; and when it reared its ugly head, it kept me from being happy. Fortunately, that devil gave me periods of relief; and at some point, left me, permanently.

Some scarring can be minor and temporary. The adjective 'scar', may, in fact, be too strong a word. Case in point, my fear of a particular spider, the Argiope, commonly known as the writing spider.

It is said this spider is considered harmless to Humans; its venom causing no more problems in adults than a bee sting. That is not what I was told as a child!

(I question the word, 'harmless', particularly when it comes to children, and knowing there could be those with an unknown hypersensitivity to the venom of this spider. While there may be no cause for morbid fear, I would advise all against coming in contact with this spider).

We, and most of our neighbors, had gardens. They were always home to several writing spiders. With this spider being very active during the day, it was not uncommon to encounter a few during any visit to the garden.

The scary myth passed on to me by older children when I was about age five was, 'If the writing spider sees your teeth, it will write your name. And you will die'!

When venturing through a garden, not only were my lips tightly clenched together, the back of one hand was held over my mouth. I'll not give this killer a chance to see my teeth!

These spiders were just about everywhere. So, what about the times when I was talking or laughing, mouth wide open, only to turn and be faced with the biggest writing spider I had ever seen in my life?

Another night having trouble getting to sleep. Did he see my teeth? Is what they say true? Will I live to see tomorrow? Will I die in my sleep?

Surviving three or four nights of this hideous turmoil was enough to convince me these older children were full of malarkey and didn't know what they were talking about.

'Heck, I'm younger and I know better. Guess that makes me a little bit smarter than them'.

There are several species of Argiope. The one making its home in my back yard is Argiope aurantia. Pronounced ahr-JY-oh-pee aw-RAN-shee-uh

Unlike some animals, especially birds, where the male is usually larger and more brilliantly colored, the female Argiope aurantia outshines her mate, by far.

She is several times larger than her male counterpart. It is not uncommon for her to attain a size permitting her to eat lizards.

And while the much smaller male is clothed in nondescript shades of dull brown and grey, Nature has seen fit to garb the female with sharp blacks and browns; and a yellow so vivid, it will not go unnoticed by anyone in her proximity. And, upon close examination, one will see a dorsal patch resembling a rich copper patina.

This writing spider can be found in every state of the Union, including Alaska and Hawaii. It is considered beneficial in that its prey is usually insects which left unchecked could do much damage to the garden, e.g. grasshoppers, etc. We gardeners need to keep this spider. Don't worry, it won't attack you; but with its eight eyes, if you are around, it will know.

It could be said this is a frugal spider. After a day, her web is pretty much useless. Rather than dismantling and discarding, the web is usually eaten and rebuilt each day, with the exceptions of the periods around molting and egg-laying.

And clean? This beautiful spider goes to the toilette only at night; and leaves her web to do so!

Now, isn't that a nice Orb Weaver?

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September 25, 20170 found this helpful

I love your stories!

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September 26, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks, Holly!

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Anonymous
November 12, 20170 found this helpful

This is the only spider I like. When I was three my grandfather took me to the garden and showed me that kind of spider. He said to look where she spider wrote my name in the web. I had a easy name. ANN. Sure enough there were the zigzag letters.

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September 30, 20170 found this helpful

I call those spiders "golden orbs," and I wish I had a bunch of them around my house. The only "story" I ever heard about them was that they'd sometimes write "Mary" in their webs for the Virgin Mary. So far, I've never seen one do that. I've never heard of them biting anybody.

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Several years ago, we had a large golden orb over our front windows. My son and I would catch crickets and throw them on her web. We watched her go from large to small when she laid her eggs that fall. One cold morning, she wasn't on her web, and when I checked, she was lying on her back on the outside windowsill. I carefully brought her in and put her under a glass in the cooling oven. When she didn't move for a few minutes, I decided to put her back outside to go to wherever spiders go when they die. I tried to pick her up with a pencil and her legs started moving. Back to her web she went, and then it happened again a week or so later.

This time, I put her on top of the warm dryer and once more she revived. It was nearly Halloween, and she moved her web until it hung over our front door. She made a great natural Halloween decoration.

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But, the day came when she couldn't be revived, and it made us sad.

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October 1, 20171 found this helpful

Beautiful story. Thank you.

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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

When I was three my grandfather too me into his garden. He showed me a garden spider in her web and said "look she wrote your name". Since I had an easy name to spell I was also able to write it. There it was ANN in the spiders zig zag writing.

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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

Sweet

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October 8, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks for sharing, Ann.

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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

You are a wonderful storyteller! Thank you for sharing!

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October 3, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks. Robyn!

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October 1, 20170 found this helpful

Enthralling! Glad I did not miss this one.

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October 3, 20170 found this helpful

Me, too!

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October 2, 20171 found this helpful

You are a really good writer I loved your story!

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October 3, 20170 found this helpful

I appreciate the compliment. Thank you.

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October 5, 20170 found this helpful

Thank you!

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November 8, 20170 found this helpful

Wow, that sure was a fascinating and really beautiful story, and informative, and I sure enjoyed reading everything you'd written. Thank you for sharing.

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November 12, 20170 found this helpful

I read your story with great interest. I have some of these spiders in my yard. They are beautiful. I always wondered why they are called writing spiders. About the older kids though, I have some cousins who used to scare me so much. First when I was 5, and in the basement of my grandmas house, they said a tiger was looking in the window. Of course that scared me to pieces and then when I was 8 and we moved to Socorro, New Mexico, my cousins lived there too in a house behind the Val Verde hotel and we used to go walking down the alley behind the hotel and they would tell me that the janitor lived in this little room down these stairs and he kidnapped children and beat them.

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Older kids can really traumatize younger ones like me. of course they were lying but I didn't know that.

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November 12, 20171 found this helpful

Here in Texas they are called Fence Spiders or Garden Spiders. I had one this summer that made a beautiful "zigzig" web and she was there for a couple of months. I named her Charlotte. Sure enough, she made her sack of eggs. A couple of days later we had our first cold front hit and she was gone. That is was kills them.....the first cold front. But her sack of eggs is there, protected. They won't hatch until Spring. it was so sad for me to see her gone, but I know her babies will carry her line on!

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