zipper spider

“Don’t let Mom see,” Larisa advised in an early morning text. She found a zipper spider in their garden and thought her father might like to check it out. If you, dear reader, are an arachnophobe you might want to skip this post. There are pictures. Well, I am afraid of spiders but my curiosity was piqued.

The zipper spider is also known as a garden spider, writing spider, banana spider or golden orb weaver. The female is BIG. Her abdomen can be more than inch long! The zipper, zigzag she weaves into the web is called a stabilimentum. Scientists don’t know its purpose but they have several theories. Katherine’s is that it warns birds not to get caught in the web.

We had picked up Katherine from school and asked her to show us the spider. She loves and is very knowledgeable about bugs. There was some kind of magic at work here because I didn’t feel terrified when I saw her from a safe distance, perched on her magnificent web in the bright sunshine. The giant web was hanging between two tall bushes. After admiring her size and coloring and that amazing zipper pattern I realized that we were looking at her underside.

underside

Well, that wouldn’t do. When I expressed my disappointment to Katherine she said she would show me a way around to the other side of the web. It involved climbing up over a porch bench and jumping down into a narrow space between the house and the bushes, and then making our way between the bushes until we got to the opposite side of the web. Wow! My little Katherine was an excellent nature guide.

If the sun sets you free …
You’ll be free indeed, indeed …
She’s only happy in the sun

~ Ben Harper
♫ (She’s Only Happy in the Sun) ♫

Mind you, if I had seen this spider in the house I would have had a panic attack. But somehow, outside, it was different. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. Why the difference? Larisa says these spiders never come in the house. Because they love the sun? Maybe because house spiders creep around in dark places is why they are so dreadful. All I know is that the words of Ben Harper’s song came to mind when I saw this one!

17 thoughts on “zipper spider”

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the lovely zipper spider, Pam! I agree, spiders are much nicer to see outside in their natural home! 🙂

  1. What a treat this is, Barbara, to see this most unusual orb spider’s zippered web. Although I have seen and admired many orb spiders, I have never seen this species or the stabilimentum. And how wonderful for you to have pursued it, admired and photographed it in spite of your fear. ta-da.

    1. This zipper spider was so enchanting, Jet, I have no idea what kind of spell came over me but I’m awfully glad the whole adventure happened. There’s something, too, about being behind a camera that seems to spur me on to take more chances than I normally would. Thanks so much for appreciating along with me the spider and her mysterious stabilimentum.

    1. I guess what they’re called depends on what the locals decide to call them. 🙂 Larisa’s neighbor, from Florida, called it a banana spider, too.

  2. She’s pretty … in a creepy sort of way! I think she’s much happier outdoors than inside. I Googled them and found, to my delight, that they’re harmless to humans!

    1. I thought she had an exotic sort of beauty, but frightening, too. I thought of saving her picture for a Halloween post but decided she didn’t feel quite scary enough!

  3. Although I don’t like spiders I usually do not have a fear of spiders. So even with your warning I continued to read and look at the photographs.

    On one side of the coin, it is beautiful! On the other side of the coin, it is scary! I’m glad that you were able to photograph both sides of the spider. I read your post in the evening. I couldn’t fall asleep without seeing the vision of that spider. I was afraid that I would have a spider nightmare, but did not. I did sleep fine.

    The web with the zigzag is incredible! I will wonder what all it catches to eat.

    I’m so glad that Debbie found it harmless for humans. Still I would not want it in my house or in my yard. It’s too creepy for me.

    You are Brave Barbara to go so close to investigate with Courageous Kate! Your grandchildren have powers over you my dear friend.

    1. She is the perfect combination of scary and beautiful, I agree! After seeing her in person her image keeps coming back to me, too. So far, no nightmares… Apparently zipper spiders eat small insects like flies, mosquitoes, aphids, grasshoppers, bees, gnats, and damselflies. That zipper is a wonder, isn’t it?

      I have to laugh, I’m not the kind of grandmother who bakes cookies or knits mittens, but I do hope they will remember me fondly for sharing in their adventures and cultivating their interests.

  4. Oh my – I’d have had a panic attack if I saw that spider in the garden – good thing it enjoys the outdoors, not indoors. I do admit the markings are beautiful and I like how you’ve captured the zigzag portion of the web. I read a story this week how our unusually hot weather in North America this Summer will have warmed the Earth so much that even the coldest Winter days will not kill off the “creepy crawly bugs” (they terrorize me to the nth degree). The backyard grass got very long and I did not go into the backyard for about a week, maybe 10 days because there was a huge spider that had spun its web from the house to a Rose of Sharon Bush in my neighbor’s yard at the fenceline. I am happy I saw the spider hanging in the massive web and didn’t walk into it … I’d have been terrified it was on me. It took a fierce wind and a dead Rose of Sharon bloom that fell onto the web and hung in the web and seemingly knocked the spider out of it, for me to go back there again. (I was prepared to let the generator tech walk thru it last Wednesday, but the spider and web were already gone.)

    1. I’m glad you were able to look at the zipper spider, Linda, I thought you might skip the post if I warned you ahead of time that there would be pictures. Yup, that about sums it up, climate change is misery for us and great for the bugs… Were you really going to let the generator tech walk through the web without warning him??? I usually let Tim lead the way on webby walks — he uses his cane to clear the way. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about yard work here. Nobody has a lawn and the pine needles create a natural mulch. And there are swaths of pretty mosses. We’ve noticed some people leave the pine cones in their yards and other pick them up. Every day Tim sweeps leaves and pine needles off the front porch and back deck.

      1. The generator tech is very nice and he is built like a middle linebacker. I feel petite next to him and I’m 5′ 9″. I guess I would have admitted my fear and he probably would have pushed forward anyway. He is big on camping – his bio says he and the family love camping and animals – he has quite a menagerie of them. I wish I was not a chicken about these things.

        I would like not having a lawn. I look in the backyard now that the trees and all the bush debris is gone – it looks awful but the grass is lush in most places now. I have deep holes from the two oak trees years ago. I am thinking it is lucky that the burrow is not out in the yard – I was reading up on groundhog burrows (if it is a groundhog) and people have been known to unsuspectingly step into a burrow and twist an ankle or break a foot. Replacing the backyard with sod will be a pain as it is so uneven back there now. Force of habit for Tim to keep the needles and leaves off the porch. Before we got Carpenter ants, we had a Locust tree out front. That tree was pretty but messy come Fall. It not only dropped tiny leaves, but also long stems where the leaves grew on. They were slick when it rained and I had to sweep them up every day too, often in the dark, after I came home from work.

        1. I imagine anyone who loves camping can probably deal with outdoor spiders well enough. I remember carpenter ants. Living so close to the woods they were a constant problem in the house where I grew up. Every time a woodpecker starts pecking at a house I wonder if its after the carpenter ants in the walls.

          1. Well, at least the holes woodpeckers make in trees make lovely nests for wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and bluebirds. ♡

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