Common Name: Signature Spider/Oval St Andrew's Cross Spider (Female)
Scientific Name: Argiope aemula
Habitat: Tropical and Sub-tropical grassland Females have a silvery carapace and a silver, yellow, red and black banded upper abdomen with two longitudinal yellow stripes below. It sits with the legs in pairs. The males are brown and cream coloured and are smaller than females. The body length of the male measures around 3 – 4 millimetres while the females are larger at 10 – 16 millimetres.
Signature spiders get their name from the zigzag design embossed on the web, that is believed to serve a camouflage function.The X shape is called the St. Andrew’s cross because it is believed that the saint was martyred on a cross of this shape rather than the conventional cross shape. The zigzag ribbons of bluish-white silk that form a full or partial cross through the centre of the orb web. Only the female spider builds the webs-medium-sized orb webs, occupied day and night, on low shrubby vegetation.The spider sits right in the middle of the web at all times.
When prey is caught in the web, the spider throws out broad swathes of white silk to immobilise the prey, then rapidly rotates it to tighten the binding before administering the fatal bite. Prey includes flies, moths, butterflies, beetles and bees.
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