Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Okay, so here’s the spider

with 29 comments

Argiope aurantia Spider and Small Feather 8238

Click for better clarity and contrast.

Now you get to see the Argiope aurantia spider that spun the web that snagged the feather that caught the attention of the photographer in Great Hills Park on October 19th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM

29 Responses

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  1. Okay. So that was for me. Sorry I’ve been away. Busy with the home school! Thanks for that beauty!


    November 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM

  2. This is an amazing shot. Creepy, but great detail.


    November 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

  3. Good attn. to detail. I like it- the spider, I mean, outside, of course. Spiders eat the insects that bug us.
    Love the web sharpness, too.


    November 21, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    • I only wish spiders ate even more of those bugs that bug us, because I still find plenty of them bugging me when I’m out in nature.

      I was fortunate to get the web and the feather sharp, along with much of the spider, of course. The ensemble wasn’t easy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 4:34 PM

  4. Charlotte?

    Yours is a little lighter in the abdomen than ours. Nice capture of the hairy details, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    November 21, 2014 at 5:41 PM

  5. What fun! What child of the 40s and 50s wouldn’t recognize the rhythm of your description as a variant of The House that Jack Built? I can’t remember the last time I heard the whole thing. I certainly didn’t know that Thomas Jefferson once used it in a discussion about the Constitution. From the Wiki:

    “Thomas Jefferson, prior to serving as President, first used it to criticize the broad construction approach of the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S. Constitution, with respect to a bill to grant a federal charter to a mining company. The term was used to suggest that the expansion of federal powers under these arguments would give the federal government infinite powers. “Congress is authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defense; copper is necessary for ships; mines, necessary for copper; a company necessary to work the mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at ‘This is the House that Jack Built’? Under such a process of filiation of necessities, the sweeping clause makes clean work.”

    I see they also call “The House that Jack Built” a cumulative tale. It actually seems to fit this kind of web better than one of those glorious, symmetrical webs.


    November 21, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    • I should have known I could count on you to catch the allusion. I had no idea there was a history that included Thomas Jefferson: what a surprise. Thanks for the new (to me) information.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    • Wonderful caption!

      That feather is even cooler up close! I will say too that the spider makes me glad I don’t live around there. Is it poisonous?

      So that particular individual’s body is nearly an inch long, not including the legs? I’d have been hard pressed not to photograph it but I promise you we’d have had a talk first. “Ok, check it out I’m not gonna eat you. I just think you’re pretty cool and a little scary, so stay over there, no jumping, biting, none of that. We cool?”

      I wouldn’t give too many people the idea that the reasoning of “The House that Jack Built” will work for all their arguments…lol


      December 1, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      • This type of spider isn’t poisonous, at least not to people. And yes, it’s one of the largest I see around here, so I usually stop to take pictures; in contrast, some spiders are so tiny that photographing them is really hard. As far as staying still, in my experience many spiders hold their ground, and this is one type that generally does. That makes my life as a photographer easier.

        Steve Schwartzman

        December 2, 2014 at 7:22 AM

  6. The one I photographed (this link is in Atlanta, but I captured a similar one in Colonial Williamsburg) is black and yellow. It had the same name when I researched it, but it makes me think I got the name wrong.


    No, I guess not – the pictures on Google for the black and yellow corn spider also show a brown and yellow variation; it must be regional difference.

    I love taking pictures of them. They’re beautiful and so distinctive with that fur and the striping.



    November 21, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    • An excellent chance for a little comparison. It seems you did get the identification right, and there are certainly individual and regional variations. I’m glad to see you got some nice photographs of yours. Thanks for the link.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 11:02 PM

  7. Amazing photo, the detail is stunning. Your posts are so informative and a real pleasure to read.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 22, 2014 at 12:28 AM

  8. Great photo. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    November 22, 2014 at 1:24 PM

  9. Steve, either she is a very big spider, or that is a very small feather! I had imagined this to be the other way around. I was visited by an impressive spider here yesterday. She and yours are surely cousins.


    November 22, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    • According to Wikipedia, males range from 5–9 mm (0.20–0.35 in) and females from 19–28 mm (0.75–1.10 in); I believe that’s body length, so add more for the legs. Based on those numbers, the one in my picture had to have been a female. And yes, the feather was smaller, the opposite of what you’d thought. There are other Argiope species, and perhaps one of those was your visitor yesterday.

      If you’d like a closer view of the species in my picture, you can check out a post from last year:


      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2014 at 11:30 PM

      • Thank you for the link, Steve, she is a gorgeous specimen! May I invite you over to see my pumpkin painted beauty? She was posted Friday.


        November 23, 2014 at 8:49 AM

  10. I was also delighted at the ‘House that Jack Built’ allusion, and shoreacres’ wonderful find of its Jeffersonian use only serves to make it the more enjoyable. Fabulous spider. We had one live all summer and into autumn on our dining room window a couple of years ago, but it’s the only one I’ve met thus far. So pleased to meet her cousin! They’re a beautiful species. And their superhero alternate identity as ‘Writin’ Spiders’ makes them, naturally, favorites of mine. Thanks for the share!


    December 1, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    • You two may be the only ones who got the House that Jack Built allusion; you’re certainly the only two who mentioned it.

      This is the most prominent large spider in Austin, at least if my experience is representative. When my peripheral vision landed on “dining room” in your comment I though you had one of these spiders living inside your house, but I gather it was on the outside rather than the inside of your window. I can definitely see why you like the reference to writing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      • Ha! If the spider *had* been indoors, the only reason I’d’ve considered evicting it would’ve been for its own preservation (we don’t welcome other sorts of insects indoors, so I’d worry the spider would starve to death). But since they’re generally not aggressive, and especially since they’re pretty hard to miss and accidentally step on or run into, I wouldn’t fear unintentional contact and would just enjoy the great beauty of one of these lounging around in my dining room window. And, of course, seeing if one of them could write up the Great Arachnidican Novel or something.


        December 2, 2014 at 5:41 PM

        • I wonder if all the visitors to your house would’ve been as sanguine as you about the presence of Mrs. Argiope.

          I like your reference to the Great Arachnidican Novel. I guess it would have to be written by someone named Webb.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 2, 2014 at 11:08 PM

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