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Photo of the Week: Guardians of the Garden

Iconic Garden Residents

Posted August 6, 2014. Photo courtesy Beth Waldron-Yuhas.

The ABQ BioPark is home to many plants and animals, including native species that find an inviting habitat and take up residence. This black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), a common orb weaver throughout North America, built its web in the Sasebo Japanese Garden.

Garden spiders prefer sunny locations that are protected from wind to build their webs, which can take several hours to create. Scientists aren't sure why many orb weavers decorate their webs with highly visible silk--called "stabilimenta"-- but the vertical zig-zag is one of the distinctive marks of the yellow garden spider. The zig-zag may attract insect prey, or it may detract predators like birds. These spiders help maintain a healthy ecosystem, playing an important role in insect control.