In our case, she's a real spider. She's know as a Garden Spider. They are really territorial. This one - or her ancestors - have been weaving in this area for several years. It's nicely sheltered from the wind and it's excellent hunting territory, clearly. I didn't see anything noteworthy in her pantry this morning, but it's early yet. She might snag herself a cricket today. She's always got a smatering of gnats, mosquitos, flies and other small-sized pests, but occasionally, she'll get industrious and go after big game. Once, she caught a wasp. Impressive! She's gotten several crickets, but no grasshoppers. Not sure why not. Maybe they aren't as tasty. They look as if they'd be kind of tough and dry. No plans to sample any to find out, but they have that leathery look that doesn't bode well.
I'm not sure what the life span of these spiders is, but our girl here has been busy weaving for the past month, and I assume it's the same spider. As the fall approaches, she'll produce a large, football shaped egg sac that she'll hide from spider preditors, and come spring, one of her daughters will probably continue the legacy in much the same location.
I like the zigzaggy bit. A lot.