Over on the iNaturalist site for Spiders of Minnesota, we’ve been tasked with finding Argiope. I hadn’t seen any in Minnesota before (and I’ve been living here for almost 20 years), but as usual, once you start looking, and once you see a few, suddenly their presence just leaps out at you. We found a bunch of them today!
These are among the biggest spiders in Minnesota, and the first one I found, the pictures weren’t so great. I’m used to itty-bitty little beasties, so I’ve got multiple extension tubes in my camera, and all I got were EXXXTREME closeups. Today I popped out most of those tubes. These guys really are monstrous huge, and vividly colored. Once I tweaked my camera, they were also easy to photograph.
We found them in the unmowed drainage ditches all along the highway through town. Well, honestly, Mary found them — she spotted the first, I moved in with the camera, totally focused on the specimen, and she had to yell at me that I was about to walk into another one. She was keying in on the stabilimenta, the thickened zig-zag bands that form a line in the webs, and once she spotted one, she was seeing them all over the place. It got to the point that she’d say “one here, one here, another one here” and point and I’d just go where she commanded.
I’ve put a little gallery below the fold. Get out into nature and open your eyes!