Halloween Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Tis the season when people pay money for fake spider webs to drape all over their houses and gardens, but my neighbor called me excitedly to bring my camera for a real life experience!  She was about to tear down the tomato plants when she came face to face with this exquisite creature.. The main shot is the back side, but be sure to check out the extra for the front view. It's stunning.

I had to google big fat yellow and black striped spider to find that it is probably a Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata). I've never looked carefully at the underside of a spider, so I was curious to know what that bump was on her belly:  "Most female spiders have a copulatory portal called an epigynum, uniquely-shaped for each species, located centrally on the underside of the abdomen." 

My last question was whether they were poisonous to humans:  "Despite their large size and fearsome appearance, orb weavers are not considered to be medically important."  Language is a wonderful thing.

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