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Spider Sense

15 September 2011 | Posted in Wildlife , Wildlife Advice , Wildlife Garden

Author Jess Price

garden spider

Im not scared of spiders, but I have to admit I did get a bit of a fright on Sunday - I managed to walk straight through a large web that was suspended across my back door. The culprit was a female garden spider Araneus diadematus and unfortunately for us both she had decided to build her web right at face height! Happily garden spiders usually build a new web every night so I dont think she was too badly affected by my accidental destruction of her home.

Once I recovered from the initial shock I noticed two more webs in the window frames of the conservatory and a third between the branches of a small apple tree. In fact my garden was full of beautiful orb-shaped webs that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

In reality Araneus diadematus can be found in gardens across the UK from May, but most people dont notice them until they reach their adult size at the end of summer. Although garden spiders can vary in colour from very dark brown to bright orange, this species is a familiar sight to most people and can easily be recognised by their characteristic white-cross shaped group of spots on their abdomen.

At this time of year, garden spiders are regularly seen sitting, head down, in the centre of their large and wonderfully constructed web. In fact I found another one this morning! She had made her web in the window frame of our reception here at Woods Mill. I ask a colleague to take a picture of her and then noticed a male sat nearby.

As you can see by the photograph below, the males look quite different with long gangly legs and a much smaller abdomen (because its not crammed full with hundreds of eggs). This one will have to approach the female very carefully as males are often mistaken for prey and eaten by the badly sighted females. Once this spider has mated shell go off to a suitable nook or cranny and will lay her eggs in a silken cocoon. Female garden spiders stay close to their egg sac to repair any damage until they are killed by the cold and lack of food.

(l) female garden spider (r) male garden spider / Graeme Lyons

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Autumnwatch in Sussex

Comments

  • 16 Sep 2011 09:59:29

    Although I have seen these spiders many times over the years I have never read anything about them before,so thanks for helping me learn something about their lives.

  • 16 Sep 2011 10:04:08

    Thank you for your comment & I’m really pleased that you find the Sussex Wildlife Trust blog informative.

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