Distribution and habitat
It has been introduced to all main islands of Hawaii. It inhabits a wide variety of habitats, from coasts to upland forests. During the rainy season from June to November, this species is common in sunny edge areas, such as along roadsides and cultivated area.
In Hawaii they are referred to as Hawaiian garden spiders. In Hawaii, they are known to be quite communal (see picture), with multi-generational specimens living within close quarters, using the same anchor lines for separate webs.
On Guam, where Argiope appensa is ubiquitous, it is frequently visited by Argyrodes argentatus, that steals food from the host. Locals there refer to them as banana spiders. Following the introduction of the brown tree snake and the subsequent extinction or near-extinction of many of the island's small birds, spider populations on Guam exploded in response to decreasing predation and competition. Nature writer David Quammen has called Argiope appensa "almost certainly one of the larger species" which were encountered in vast numbers during his research trip to Guam for the book The Song of the Dodo.
Argiope appensa construct webs mainly in bushes, between branches, and in human constructions. The webs are rather large and show a white zig-zag silk decoration developed from one corner to the center of the web. These decorations, usually called stabilimenta, could be may be a warning device to prevent birds from inadvertently destroy the web.
Mature female being handled in Hilo, Hawaii
Female of Argiope appensa in Hawaii, ventral view. Video clip
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- "Taxon details Argiope appensa (Walckenaer, 1841)", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2016-05-07
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 21, 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Kerr, A. M. Low Frequency of Stabilimenta in Orb Webs of Argiope appensa (Araneae: Araneidae) from Guam: An Indirect Effect of an Introduced Avian Predator? Pacific Science (1993), vol. 47, no. 4: 328-337
- Argiope apensa at BugGuide.net
- Alexander M. Kerr Behavior of web-invading spiders Argyrodes argentatus (Theridiidae) in Argiope appensa (Araneidae) host webs in Guam TheJournal of Arachnology, Volume33 Number 1
- Walckenaer, C. A. (1842): Histoire naturelle des Insects. Aptères. Paris, 2: 1-549.