This lady lives in my garden! I took this picture of her yesterday. She is a Garden Spider Argiope. They are also called "corn spiders".
Garden Spiders are not harmful to humans and eat mosquitoes and any other bugs in the garden, most of which eat your plants. I'd love to have one living in my rose bush next June when the rose chaffers make their appearance or in the hibiscus plants when the sawflys show up! I wonder if I can move one to the rose bush in the spring...
They are not at all aggressive and will usually only bite you if you handle a female with an egg cocoon in the web. Even then, the bite would be no different than a wasp or bee sting. They are not poisonous and reports of them biting humans are rare. They prefer not to leave their web unless absolutely necessary. They spin the most beautiful webs with a "Z" across the middle, which can sometimes get as big across as 2 feet! This dense center section is consumed every night and rebuilt in the morning.
The female builds the webs and lays the eggs around the edges of open sunny fields. They tend to stay in one place most of their lifetime, which is 1-2 years. They mate once a year, after which the male dies and is consumed by the female.
I have seen several of these around my field and back garden this year but this lady is the biggest I have seen so far. Isn't she beautiful! I leave them alone as much as possible, but come on, I have to pick the ground cherries!
I have a lot of garter snakes too, and love them! I just wish Shadow and Abby (the kitties) would leave them alone. Abby, in particular, seems determined to bring them home with her! Bring the mice home dead, leave the garter snakes, please.