Scientific name: Argiope bruennichi
Size: Female 18mm (head + body), the male is less than 5mm
Distribution: Found mainly in the southern counties of England but slowly spreading northwards.
Months seen: April to October
Habitat: Low growing grassland
Food: Flies, grasshoppers and crickets
Special features: This is one of our more exotic looking spiders. It's a native spider of Mediterranean areas, and has only recently colonised England. Despite the warning colouration this is not a dangerous species. The wasp-like appearance is probably defensive, to deter predators.
The Wasp Spider builds its web close to the ground in order to catch grasshoppers and crickets. The female can often be seen hanging upside-down in the middle of her web throughout summer and autumn. The web features a distinctive zig-zag patterned section running vertically through it.
The large abdomen features yellow, black and white stripes, and the cephalothorax is covered with silver coloured hair. When viewed from underneath you can see two yellow stripes running lengthways along the abdomen.
The female Wasp Spider creates one of the largest egg sacs of any of the spiders found in Britain. It is flask shaped, brown in colour and about 25mm across. She fills it with eggs and then seals the top with more silk.
The male is much smaller, and is only active for a couple of weeks in July. Like many other male spiders, he has to be careful when mating, to ensure he doesn't end up as dinner for the female.
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