Over the past year and a half I have begun an effort to add spiders to my photographic repertoire. This began in September of 2010 when I was out looking for dragonflies in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife refuge and I spotted something large and bright yellow in the field. As I approached to get a better look, and of course some pics, I found this banded argiope spider instead of a dragonfly.
The banded argiope is a spider that is found in parts of North America and Europe. It is a member of the orbweaver family, and as with most orbweavers it spins a large intricate web. It uses the web to catch flying insects. Once caught in the web the spider will bite its prey to inject its venom. The venom paralyzes the prey and begins to dissolve its insides. The spider will then suck out the liquid proteins. The bite of the banded argiope is not dangerous to people. Spiders usually only bite people in self defense. So if you do not harass the spider chances are it will not bite you. This was definitely a female argiope as female spiders are usually three to five times the size of their male counterparts.