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What kind of spider is black with orange spots on its back?

What kind of spider is black with orange spots on its back?

There are a few different kinds of spiders that are black with orange spots on their backs. The most common spider fitting this description is likely the black and yellow garden spider, also known as the yellow and black argiope spider or writing spider. Other possibilities include orb weaver spiders like the banded garden spider, as well as some types of jumping spiders. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these spiders to identify what kind of spider has this distinct coloration.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

The black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is one of the most common and recognizable spiders found across North America. As their name suggests, these spiders have a black body with distinct yellow or orange markings on their abdomen and legs.

The female black and yellow garden spider has a rounded abdomen that can grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. Their legs can span 2-3 inches (5-8 cm). The males are much smaller with bodies only around 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) long.

Some key features of the black and yellow garden spider:

  • Black body with bright yellow, orange, and white markings
  • Prominent markings on abdomen often form stripe or cross shape
  • Build large, circular orb webs up to 2 feet wide
  • Found in gardens, meadows, fields, and forests
  • Most active during the summer and early fall

The striking yellow and black coloration serves as a warning to potential predators that these spiders may be venomous or distasteful. While the black and yellow garden spider does produce venom, it is not considered dangerous to humans.


To positively identify a black spider with orange spots as a black and yellow garden spider, look for these distinguishing characteristics:

Size and Shape

– Body length around 0.4 – 1 inch (1-2.5 cm)
– Round, bulbous abdomen
– Long, spindly legs about 2-3 inch legspan (5-8 cm)

Color Pattern

– Black or dark brown body color
– Bright yellow, orange, or white spots/stripes on abdomen
– Yellow and white banding on legs


– Large, circular orb web up to 2 feet (0.5 m) in diameter
– May build web in gardens, between trees/plants, or on building eaves


– Diurnal (active during the day)
– Remains in center of web waiting for prey

Spider Species Body Length Leg Span Web Type
Black and Yellow Garden Spider 0.4 – 1 inch 2 – 3 inches Large circular orb web

Banded Garden Spider

Another spider that is black with orange markings is the banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata). This orb weaver gets its name from the distinctive white bands on its legs.

Here are some identification features of the banded garden spider:

– Abdomen up to 1 inch long
– Black and yellow coloration, no white spots
– Orange and brown bands on the legs
– Large orb web up to 1.5 feet in diameter
– Found in warmer regions of North America

The banded garden spider has similar web-building habits and venom potency as the black and yellow garden spider. However, the banded garden spider has more orange on its legs compared to the predominantly yellow and black striped legs of the black and yellow garden spider. The banded garden spider is also found in more southern, tropical areas while the black and yellow garden spider has a wider range.

Jumping Spiders

There are some jumping spiders that also have black bodies with orange or red markings. Jumping spiders are compact, with squat bodies and legs that extend out to the side. Here are a few examples:

  • Bold jumper (Phidippus audax) – jet black with bright orange or red markings on abdomen
  • Regal jumper (Phidippus regius) – black with red or orange stripes on abdomen
  • Twin-flagged jumper (Anasaitis canosa) – black with orange spots and white bands on legs

Jumping spiders have excellent eyesight and actively hunt prey rather than building webs to capture food. The colorful markings are thought to help jumping spiders identify each other and communicate, rather than ward off predators.

Habitat and Behavior

Black spiders with orange spots like the black and yellow garden spider favor habitats like:

– Gardens, meadows, and agricultural fields
– Forest edges and open woodlands
– Wetlands around ponds and marshes

They build sizable orb webs between plants, trees, or man-made structures. The circular web has support threads stretched out in all directions and a sticky spiral catching web in the center:

Web Feature Description
Support threads Non-sticky threads radiating out in all directions that anchor the web
Catching spiral Sticky spiral threads in center to trap prey

The spider waits patiently in the middle of the web for unsuspecting prey like flies, bees, butterflies, and grasshoppers to become ensnared. They consume the trapped insects or wrap them in silk for later. The orb shape allows the spider to detect vibrations from all directions.

In late summer, the females begin laying multiple egg sacs, each containing up to a thousand eggs. The egg sacs are round silken balls constructed near the edges of the web. When the spiderlings hatch in autumn, they balloon on threads to disperse and find new territory.

Bite Risk and Dangers

The black and yellow garden spider and related species are not considered dangerous or prone to biting people. The venom is comparable to a bee sting but does not pose any serious harm to healthy adults.

Some precautions around black and orange spiders include:

– Watch for webs if walking through vegetation and avoid accidentally disturbing them
– Don’t touch or handle the spiders
– Supervise curious children and pets around them
– Seek medical treatment for severe reactions to bites

While painful, most reported bites only result in mild swelling, red marks, or itching. Serious reactions are extremely uncommon. People with allergies should take extra care however.

Population Status

Black and yellow garden spiders are widespread and abundant across most of North America. They thrive in disturbed habitats and can adapt readily to orchards, crop fields, parks, suburban neighborhoods, and other man-modified environments.

While populations can fluctuate based on factors like severe winter weather, available prey, and habitat change, their numbers remain stable overall. They are not considered endangered or threatened. Efforts to conserve native plants and reduce pesticide use benefit garden orb weaver spiders and their insect prey.

Relationship to Humans

The bold colors and impressive webs of spiders like the black and yellow garden spider draw interest and fascination from many people. They are one of the most eye-catching spider species to find in gardens and backyards.

Despite scary appearances, these docile spiders provide benefits around homes and gardens by:

– Predating on insect and arthropod pests
– Spinning beautiful webs that captivate nature lovers
– Serving as important food sources for birds, wasps, and other predators

Their intricate orb webs are harmless to humans and can simply be left alone or carefully relocated if found in an inconvenient location. While bites can occur if they are carelessly handled, they are unlikely to bite of their own accord and remain harmless unless the victim has specific allergies.

Some cultures associate the spider’s bold patterns and web-building skills with creativity, wisdom, or feminine energy. Many people enjoy photographing the spider in its web or even keeping them as educational classroom pets.

Other Black and Orange Spider Species

While the black and yellow garden spider is the most widespread, there are a diversity of other spiders that share the black bodies with orange or yellow markings:

Orb Weavers

– Spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis)
– Tropical orb weaver (Eriophora ravilla)
– Spinybacked orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis)

Ground Spiders

– Burrowing wolf spider (Geolycosa sp.)
– Orange sac spiders (Cheiracanthium sp.)

Jumping Spiders

– Antillean jumping spider (Synageles occidentalis)
– Securla lurida jumping spider
– Myrmarachne formicaria (ant-like jumping spider)

There are over 46,000 known spider species globally exhibiting diverse colors, shapes, sizes and habitats. While black and orange markings are common, many other color variations exist in nature. Correct identification relies on observing their detailed anatomy, web types and behavior patterns.


In summary, the black spider with orange spots most commonly encountered in North America is the black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Related orb weaving spiders like the banded garden spider and various jumping spiders can also match this color pattern. Identifying features include the spider’s size, web type, leg and abdominal markings, and behavior. While attention-grabbing, these spiders pose minimal dangers to people and provide pest control services in our gardens and landscapes. Their colorful beauty and intricate webs will continue to fascinate nature enthusiasts across their widespread range.