Maryland Spiders and Caterpillars

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Recently I’ve had the pleasure of encountering some pretty interesting-looking creatures around here; unfortunately, I’m having trouble tracking down exactly what some of them are. Can anyone out there help me?

The only one I’ve been able to get a positive ID on this this Black and Yellow Garden Spider. I’ve lived in Maryland for decades and I have never seen one, although apparently they are fairly common. Although it’s hard to gauge from this photo, I can confirm that as it says on the Common Spiders of Maryland website, these things are huge — a couple of inches across, with leg span.

This next spider I haven’t had any luck identifying. He’s only about an inch across, if that, and he spins an enormous web — at least ten feet across, the kind of web that it’s only too easy to walk right into as you’re walking across the yard. He builds near houses and light. Does anyone recognize him?

And finally, the piece de resistance: I took a photo of this absolutely gigantic green caterpillar that I recently saw making its way across a slab of sidewalk. My daughter put her hand down so you can get some perspective on his size. I haven’t had any luck identifying him either.

S.M.R. Saia is the author of the children’s book Little Ant and the Butterfly and Little Ant Goes to a Picnic, as well as a collection of humorous gardening essays titled Confessions of a Vegetable Lover: Scandalous Stories of Love, Lust, and Betrayal in a Backyard Garden.