Writing spiders are large black and yellow spiders often found in backyard gardens. Some legends say that if you speak someone’s name to a writing spider, the spider will write that name when it weaves its web. Other stories say that if you disturb or damage the web, the spider will write your name. Although the legends aren’t real, the spiders do spin beautiful circular webs.

Also called yellow garden spiders, writing spiders can be found throughout the North and Central America. They spin their webs in sunny areas, using plants to anchor them. While most spiders have two claws on each foot, writing spiders have three. With the extra claws, the spiders create zig zag patterns in the center of their webs – the “writing” in the webs. No one is certain why they create this complex design. Some scientists think it may help stabilize the web. Others believe it may attract insects or keep birds from flying through the web.

Although they may appear threatening, writing spiders aren’t poisonous. They are actually beneficial, as they prey on insects such as gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and aphids. If disturbed, a writing spider will cause its web to vibrate as a defense mechanism. If that doesn’t work, it will usually run away rather than attack.    

Fun Facts About Writing Spiders:

  • The large black and yellow spiders are females. The males are smaller and brown.
  • They are most active in the morning and at nightfall.
  • They find their prey by sensing vibrations in the web.
  • At night, females eat the sticky strands of the web, then spin new ones.
  • Other common names include corn spider, golden orb-weaver, and zipper spider.


Want to learn more about writing spiders?

Check out some of these great sites:

“Beneficial Yellow Garden Spiders.” Clemson University

“Black and Yellow Garden Spider.” NC State Extension

“Yellow Garden Spider.” University of Florida

“Yellow Garden Spider.” National Wildlife Foundation




Written by Samantha Bell