The Wasp spider, or Bruennichi’s Argiope (Argiope bruennichi) is a relatively recent addition to the list of British spiders. It was first reported in Rye, East Sussex in 1922. Since then it has colonised much of southern England ranging as far north as Derbyshire.
It isn’t difficult to recognise the wasp spider. Related to the garden spider (Araneus diadematus), Bruennichi’s Argiopes can have a maximum body length of a whopping 2cm. Combined with yellow and black stripes this looks like no other British spider. The web is quite unique too; orb-shaped like the common garden spider but with a a single zig-zag pattern of silk through the centre.
The male of this species is far less impressive, something on which the female spider seems to agree. At less than a quarter her size he can often be seen hanging around the edge of the web. During mating the female often wraps the male in silk and starts eating him before he’s even finished the job.
The wasp spider’s size makes it possible for the female’s fangs to pierce human skin. Other species of Argiope are known to bite and Bruennichi’s is no exception. That said it is not dangerous and pain is localised with mild swelling and some itching afterwards.