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St Andrews Cross

Argiope kiyserlingi

St Andrews Cross
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St Andrews Cross • Argiope kiyserlingi
The St. Andrews Cross spider (Argiope kiyserlingi) is a medium-sized, pretty orb weaving spider. It has two bright yellow to white stripes across its abdomen, and has a dark golden-olive background colour. It holds its legs in four pairs, forming a cross, hence its name.

There are several different morphs of the same species, with some in New Guinea, and our native Australian ones. There is also a different, but closely related, species, Argiope mangal, in Europe and America, where they are called the Black or Yellow Argiope.

Habitat
These spiders live in the bush or in people’s gardens, where they are more common in summer. The female of this species builds a large orb web, and also makes white cross markings, called stabilimentum, in the middle of the web. The male is only about 5 mm long. These spiders are common throughout Australia, including Tasmania. The St. Andrews Cross is usually non-aggressive, and there have been no reported instances where a human has become seriously ill after being bitten by them. Most likely, the worst consequence would be the fright from the spider crawling over you!

Breeding
The eggs are laid in a silk egg sack, which is normally put in leaves or twigs near the mother’s web. When the little spiders hatch, they make their webs with a white disk in the middle, then add the cross as they get older. When they are fully grown, they only make the cross in the web.
 

St Andrews Cross spider (Argiope kiyserlingi)

Predators
The spiders are a favourite food of friarbirds. One theory about the white cross in the web is that it helps the spider escape. When threatened, the spider shakes the web, causing the cross to turn into a white blur. While the bird is distracted, the spider makes its getaway. Another theory is that it helps them catch prey.

See our St Andrews Cross spider images.

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Austracantha
Species: A. kiyserlingi

Other links - St Andrews Cross (Argiope kiyserlingi)

Spiders • Includes information about the St Andrews Cross Spider
ABC online • Includes information on the St Andrews Cross Spider.
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