Silver Argiope (Argiope argentata)
This large, beautiful orb-weaver is one of the most visible spiders on the island. It is common in many areas, from towns to fields and forests. It builds large, sturdy webs that may be a couple feet in diameter. Some webs may have a characteristic “X” pattern near the center, but many do not. I find them most commonly in scrubby areas that have bushes between which they can make webs that span any opening from one to two feet wide.
When approached, they often run to an anchor point at one corner of their web. Since it is impossible to hike without passing through their webs, I usually detach the web from the other side and attach it to the bush or tree on the side where the spider has hidden.
These spiders are easily identified from the photos. They are large, the larger females are often over an inch in leg-span. Their legs are banded in black, orange and white, and their upper body is silvery in the front and primarily reddish brown at the rear of the abdomen. Often I have seen several smaller individuals in small webs at the edges of a larger specimen’s web. Apparently they can bite, and although this hasn’t happened to me, I have read that it is painful temporarily, but not seriously threatening.