Skip to main content

The Big Yellow Garden Spider, a Beneficial Spider

Wesman Todd Shaw isn't afraid of spiders, but he does have a healthy respect for them.

Argiope aurantia - the yellow garden spider

No squishing, please!  These critters are our friends.

No squishing, please! These critters are our friends.

Yellow garden spider food.

It is called the 'differential grasshopper,' but I call it pet food for my yellow garden spiders.

It is called the 'differential grasshopper,' but I call it pet food for my yellow garden spiders.

The distinctive web of a yellow garden spider


My friends, the yellow garden spiders

The largest spiders I have ever seen were all these large, mostly yellow and black garden spiders. I've never actually seen one in a garden, but a garden perimeter would be an excellent place for these spiders to be. It might be a good idea, actually, to encourage them along your garden fence. These spiders absolutely have their place alongside we human folk and our gardens. Very beneficial these spiders are to us. Oh I know you may not be so fond of the idea of having them for neighbors, but should you be so kind as to give a yellow garden spider a chance to coexist with you, you will learn to appreciate them. Me? I feed them. I see them grow, and grow, and grow.

Try talking sweet to these spiders. Courtesy goes a long way with you, does it not? Why would the spiders be any different? Six more legs and web spinning, and suddenly two legged folk think a thing a monster. Enough of that. Me, I feed the spiders. We get far too damn many of the stupid differential grasshoppers around here for anyone's well-being, and should the hop-grazers be so impudent as to land on your arm, then you've got a better place for them to go then, don't you. Into the web now, isn't it? I say it is, eh, and you should too. I'm for seeing who can grow the biggest pet garden spider. I'd advertise my giant spider as grasshopper fed, all natural, purely organic.

Sometimes in the Texas summers the differential grasshoppers are so damned ubiquitous it would seem as though father Moses had plagued us with them on behalf of the one sovereign God. The only respite from said plague is the feeding of said yellow garden spiders on the silly grasshoppers. One summer a great yellow garden spider spun a web on the back porch, and into it I stuck the grasshoppers who most offended me. The spider grew and it grew, come fall the thing was so very large that my father became offended, shot it with a four ten shotgun, he did. I grieved for months.

Beneficial spiders

The large yellow garden spiders are hardly unique to Texas, they inhabit all of the USA, Canada, Mexico, and central America. These spiders are known by many names depending upon location. The yellow garden spiders should never be killed by humans. These spiders feed upon many more pests than just the grasshoppers, they eat flies, fleas, wasps, mosquitoes, and aphids. You can't bloody well complain about a mosquito bite or worry on about mosquito born illnesses if you've killed the yellow garden spiders who the creator gave you specifically to protect you from such.

Yellow garden spiders are venomous but docile


Yellow garden spiders are, in fact, venomous

Yellow garden spiders are venomous. These spiders have absolutely no interest in biting you, or anyone you know. You'd have to make the spider feel threatened in order for it to bite you. Why would anyone threaten a spider who's life is all about ridding you of pests? I suspect an unruly and poorly minded child may be the only sort to cause the yellow garden spider such distress that it would bite. Should the parent be educated on the value and peaceful disposition of these spiders, then the parent to child knowledge should prevent any spider bites.

Should an actual spider bite from a yellow garden spider occur, then it isn't something to worry much about. It is reported the spider's reluctant bite is about as painful as a wasp sting, and no doubt, the sting of a red wasp or a yellow jacket is painful; these wasp or spider bites, however, are nothing serious outside of an allergic condition. Simply avoid irritating these fine and beneficial spiders, and you won't be bothered. There are many video examples of persons handling these docile spiders without fear or bad result, and you can certainly verify what I say.

The yellow garden spider's amazing spider web


Yellow garden spider webs

Female yellow garden spiders grow larger than the males, and this isn't unique to this spider species, but is common with spiders in general. The females are also homesteaders, that is to say they tend to live their happy lives in the same place. The will not leave their webs without good cause. Those webs of theirs do a fine job of catching flying insects, and of course, you are welcome to stick a cricket or grasshopper, or other offending insects in the web for her. It's a two way street, is it not? She's ridding you of nasty things, and you should probably display some appreciation from time to time.

The spider's webs can be three foot across, or more. The spider will live in the center of this web, and the center of the web is the sturdiest part of it. Note the zig zag pattern at center, while the exact purpose of this isn't clearly understood, the common notion is that it serves to warn off birds from flying into the web, damaging it, and ruining our friend the yellow garden spider's blessed day. Not sure the spider could eat a bird were one to get stuck, but then again, the bird was adequately warned via the design.

Yellow garden spiders, besides being beneficial to humanity, friendly, and all around good members of the community, are also conscientious about their webs. Webs are repaired daily. These spiders seem to have some sort of neighborhood association codes they follow religiously. Compared to the ugly, disorganized, and altogether shoddy webs of black widows, the yellow garden spider's web may as well be a mansion.

Beautiful yellow garden spiderlings.

Cute little friends of humanity.

Cute little friends of humanity.

Yellow garden spider reproduction

Sex is deadly for male yellow garden spiders. They always die after mating, and sometimes they are eaten by the larger female. This isn't particularly sad, as the male always dies after mating to begin with. They give their all for the furthering of their line. Very noble fellas, they are, but they are also rather cautious. The males initiate the seduction by literally intruding into the female's web home, building their own webs within the females web. The males then approach cautiously, all the while having an emergency escape silk drop line prepared should the female attack rather than mate with them. I find this to be sound thinking on the part of male yellow garden spiders, and well, I'm going to incorporate something similar in my own endeavors. These spiders only breed once a year, and for obvious reasons, were it more frequent the lives of the males would be shorter.

Mother cares for her spider eggs, guarding against threats, for as long as she can. Around the time of the first freeze of the year following the summer, mother spider dies. In spring the spiderlings hatch from their eggs, and set out on their, hopefully, year long lives of service to both themselves and humanity. Quite noble are these spiders, and I hope I've relayed that message here for you today. Friends, I hope you'll learn to appreciate these spiders, and much else besides in this natural world of wonders. Thanks for reading.

© 2016 Wesman Todd Shaw

Scroll to Continue


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 19, 2016:

Hey Besarien, I don't think I'd want to pet one either - the guy doing that in the video is someone in my county here though. Not someone I know, but then again maybe it is. They are sure better for the garden than the bugs they like to eat! We get Mosaic style plagues of grasshoppers around here some Summers :)

Besarien from South Florida on February 19, 2016:

They certainly are beautiful and so good for your garden! I love the video! I am not afraid of them by any stretch but have never picked one up to say hello. I do talk to them but talk to everything while I'm gardening, including myself a whole lot, I suspect. Thanks for a fun and informative hub!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 19, 2016:


I kinda got into a bit o' trouble; so I was gone for a while. I'm sure glad to be back now!

Crin Forbes from Michigan on January 19, 2016:

Hi Todd,

I am glad you did not stop writing!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 14, 2016:

Thanks Venkatachari! I think sometimes nature warns us about things with the colors. Yellow, it seems, is a friendly color with the spiders!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on January 13, 2016:

Interesting information about big yellow spiders. I didn't come across them but have been with black big spiders which are much frightful at a place while I was working many years back.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 13, 2016:

Thanks Cat! That's what I think, for sure. It's hard to get folks past their fears of spiders and snakes, but as with loads of fears...a bit of education can solve it, if you can get folks to listen! :)

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on January 13, 2016:

Grasshoppers are a big nuisance and very hard to get rid of! Hats off to the beautiful yellow spider for being such a vigilant predator. I love the respect you show them. Too many people are quick to kill our insects and spiders out of disgust and fear- how sad!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 13, 2016:

Thanks Dirt Farmer! Some years here in Texas it seems as though Moses has hit us with a plague of grasshoppers - those years these spiders get HUGE, and I do assist them at times by inserting grasshoppers into the webs.

I think I'm trying to reach some ....'special inner place' by writing about the creatures I encounter here at home. It's good to appreciate the other creatures in your environment, I think.

Jill Spencer from United States on January 13, 2016:

Hi there! I did not realize you'd written about the yellow garden spider, too. I have not seen their egg sacs here yet-- they're not that easy to spot-- but I hope to have several in the garden this year. I love these beauties!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 13, 2016:

Thanks tsadjatko! Oh I love these spiders. That video up there of the guy handling a very friendly one ...was filmed in my home county, but I do not know the person.

Black widows have no interest in bothering any of us two leg folks either, I know as they often nest inside of air conditioning condensers, and I used to have my hands with tools moving about just inches from them, and they never bother to move on my account. I never kill them unless they are directly in the way of where I've got to put my body parts!

The Logician from then to now on on January 13, 2016:

I was wondering when you'd get to this guy! I love them, they show up in the middle of the summer as smaller versions and by the end of summer their giant webs cover the doors to our house overnight of course with the giant spider hanging right in the middle of the web. I'm sure glad they aren't black widows.

Thanks spider (Wes)man.

Related Articles