Toronto has an unofficial spider and it looks downright terrifying

It may be the dead of winter, but the eggs of a terrifying-looking creature are lurking in a frozen garden near you, ready to hatch into swarms of poisonous arachnids when the spring thaw arrives in a few months. .

According to a guide to spiders in Toronto published by the city, our unofficial spider may have a menacing appearance and may also be a highly evolved killing machine, but the yellow garden spider is nothing to fear from humans.

Also known as Argiope aurantia, these massive, brightly colored spiders can be found all over southern Canada, including Toronto, usually hiding in orb-like webs in green, sunny areas among shrubbery. , flowers and tall plants.

Their size of up to 28mm long (females are much larger than males) combined with iridescent black bodies and bright yellow markings might send some into an arachnophobic panic, but despite their intimidating appearance, they don’t exhibit no danger to humans.

In fact, they’re quite helpful, feeding on garden pests that they trap in massive webs that can stretch up to 60 centimeters in diameter.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t nearly perfect predators, though, dealing fatal blows to other insects by injecting venom with their fangs, or trapping potentially harmful insects like wasps in silk before giving birth. the coup de grace, then throwing up an enzyme that liquefies his meal. Really terrifying stuff.

You can usually distinguish their webs from other spiders quite easily, either by their orb shape, their stabilimentum – a zigzag pattern of silk running through the center of the web – or most likely the huge upside-down spider that hide in the center.

And it’s almost always a female you’ll see, as the much smaller males usually become food for their larger counterparts in a grim conclusion to their once-a-year alien mating ritual.

The females may seem lucky, but they too die when winter sets in, leaving their next generation of creepy critters protected by layers of silk and wrapped in a ball to emerge as spiders in the spring.

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