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St Andrew's Cross spider

The St Andrew's Cross spider (Argiope aurantia, known in north America as an argiope or a golden orb weaver) is a very large and spectacular spider with black and yellow markings on its abdomen. The spider gained its name for its habit of spinning a web[?] with a large white zigzag or cross in the centre of it. This is called the web stabilimenta[?] and its function is unknown. The spider habitually sits in the centre of the web with its legs outstretched in the shape of a cross.

These spiders are spectacular and quite alarming if you aren't familiar with them, but they are not dangerous. Like most garden spiders they eat small insects, and they are capable of consuming prey up to 200% of their size.

The male spider is much smaller than the female, and unassumingly marked. When it is time to mate it spins a companion web alongside the females. The female then lays her egg sac[?] in the web, and dies. The sac contains 400-1400 eggs. These eggs hatch in the Autumn, but the spiderlings overwinter in the sac and emerge during the spring. The eggsac is composed of multiple layers of silk and designed to protect its contents from damage, but numerous species of insect have been observed to parasitise the eggsacs.

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