The Garden Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus) is one of the most common UK spiders you will come across in your garden. Also known as the Diadem Spider, Common Garden Spider and the Crowned Orb Weaver, this species spins a very neat spiral orb web. These webs vary slightly on width and height but are all made with the same geometric design. Garden spiders are very passive and are very comfortable being handled.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
Found over much of Britain, Europe and Scandinavia, North America and Asia, the garden spider mainly inhabits gardens, parks and woodlands, and can be found on bushes, hedgerows, and other vegetation.
The female is most commonly encountered, growing to around 10-18mm, she is most noticeable when sat at the centre of her orb web waiting for unsuspecting prey. The garden Spider varies hugely in colour. Individuals can be cream, rusty-orange, red-brown, brown, dark brown, grey-brown or dark grey, but all feature a white cross made of blobs/spots. The legs are usually banded dark and light brown and have spiny hairs, these hairs are most evident after shedding. the juvenile spiderlings are bright yellow with a black triangle to the back of the abdomen.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
The prey of the garden spider consists of small insects and invertebrates. The male is small, at around 4-8mm with a thinner abdomen, so he must take a lot of care approaching a females web otherwise he may be mistaken for prey.
OTHER NOTABLE FACTS
Like all spiders, the garden spider has four pairs of legs. It is interesting to note that the third pair are used in spinning the web and are virtually useless outside of it! There are seven members of the Araneus genus in the UK.