People often confuse the garden spider with the banana spider and vice versa. The banana spider belongs to the genus Nephil, where the garden spider belongs to the genus group Agriope. They're found all over North America, the UK, and the western half of Australia and are most active during the summer and fall. Although they may appear menacing, they pose very little threat and are responsible for consuming many insects around the home.
The garden spider is quite large and excluding the legs, their length can exceed 1 inch. They have a distinct white carapace (the part resembling the head) and an abdomen with various patterns of black, white, and/or yellow. This is a notable difference from the banana spider, who usually has a solid yellow abdomen. The legs can be striped or stocking-like in appearance and are paired into groups of two at each corner of the spider’s body. These strong colors are designed to discourage predators from having them for lunch.
A Garden spider’s web is similar to a banana spider’s web - large and circular, often with a zigzag pattern scaling the web from the center. The web is composed of very strong support lines. While most of the webbing is sticky, the support lines are not, allowing the spider to quickly attack prey without becoming caught in its own web. They are known to replace their webs with a new one every night.
A garden spider bite is painful but poses little risk to humans. The bite is easily remedied by a cool ice patch, where the swelling should disappear after at least 72 hours. Because the webs they construct stand out and are easily seen, people are rarely bitten and the spiders are easily removed with a broom or water hose. They are very slow and will only attack if they feel threatened.