Some beasts live with you long before you ever actually see one. I've seen strange spiky, spiny Orb Weavers in books and on BugGuide ever since I came to the USA. And today at last I got to see my first. I was in the front garden weeding and putting down some mulch when I saw a web with an odd shape at the centre. Not so big and I thought, likely just a wrapped up old meal with legs sticking out. But I moved around to catch it with the light falling the right way. And just for once it turned out to be just what I was hoping for.
This is the Spinybacked Orb Weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) Its one of 3 or 4 spiny Orb Weaver species all a little differently shaped and coloured and for that matter different within species according to where they live. This gorgeous little beast also comes in bright yellow and black in which form it looks like a smiley face on 8 legs.
There is a touch of yellow in this one too at the base of the spines and particularly on the underside as below.
Florida specimens have this colouration but the 6 spines are red! But I'll settle, very happily, for my black and white version.