Encounter with a Writing Spider

This morning, we see an enormous brown and yellow spider on the walk to school.

I learn that this garden spider commonly holds the name “Writing Spider.”

Argiope aurantia and Her Writing

She constructs and deconstructs this web daily. She builds a fresh web every new day with that distinctive zig-zag through the center of her web. Nobody knows for certain why she creates the series of X’s in her web. Called stabilimenta, this silk structure inside a web confuses arachnologists. It seems to serve no purpose at all other than decoration. It doesn’t necessarily stabilize or reflect light a certain way. It doesn’t serve to attract prey or warn birds.

It’s just writing in the web.  It makes it beautiful; it’s artful.

The arachnologists want it to serve a great purpose and to aid survival. But it doesn’t. I remember C.S. Lewis commenting on that which has no particular survival value. He writes in The Four Loves,

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Perhaps even the spider writes just because it’s beautiful. 


I’m going to check on this spider tomorrow and see if I might photograph in better light! 

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  1. Ah….no wonder you liked my FB spider this morning. I've been taking photos of your kind of spider for quite a while but I never knew this about them. I'm writing about beauty for tomorrow's post….I'll likely steal your illustration (I learn much from your insights – your flair)…it's a fabulous one. xox

  2. I'm not a big fan of spiders, but I'm old enough to know a good thing when I see it. These guys have always fascinated me and remind me that beauty resides even in those that at first glance seem repugnant. Our house guest, Sheila the Bearded Dragon, give us a daily reminder of this as well.