The garden cross spider, Araneus diadematus, is a common sight in our gardens and can be distinguished by a cross shape pattern located on its abdomen. This species is an orb web spider and they characteristically make circular webs and wait in the middle for prey. The cross threads in this spider’s web are extremely strong, around half the strength of steel (BBC, 2015a). They spin their webs across an opening and attach the edges to plants, buildings, or other objects, this is often carried out at night (Buglife, 2013), so their web is ready to catch day flying insects. Their diet consists of a variety of insects, but mainly large species, including flies and wasps, as well as butterflies.
These spiders are relatively big, with females having a body length of up to 15 mm and males 9 mm (Buglife, 2013), but despite many people being scared of spiders this species is not harmful to humans, although are to be feared by unsuspecting insect visitors.
Female spiders will disappear from our gardens in late autumn, as they will die protecting a silk egg sac in which their eggs were laid. These parents will pay the ultimate price, as by not leaving the eggs to find food for themselves they will eventually perish but by doing so have ensured the survival of the next generation of garden cross spiders, which will hatch in May of the next year (Buglife, 2013; BBC, 2015b).
BBC. (2015a) Master Spinner Spiders [www document].http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00grb0l (Accessed 13/2015).
BBC. (2015b) Garden Spider [www document].www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/European_garden_spider (Accessed 13/10/2015).
Videos about the web of the garden cross spider can be found on the above link.
Buglife. (2013) Garden Cross Spider [www document]. www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/garden-cross-spider# (Accessed 13/10/2015).