European garden spider

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For the 1952 documentary film, see The Garden Spider.
"Cross spider" redirects here. For the cross spiders famous for the unusually marked webs, see Argiope (spider).
Araneus diadematus
Araneus diadematus MHNT Femelle Fronton.jpg
Female, dorsal view
Diadem Spider, male.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Araneus
Species: A. diadematus
Binomial name
Araneus diadematus
Clerck, 1758 [1]

The European garden spider, diadem spider, cross spider, or cross orbweaver (Araneus diadematus) is a common orb-weaver spider found in Europe and parts of North America,


European garden spider (orb-weaver) varieties are very commonly found throughout Europe and North America. In America, their range extends from New England and the Southeast to California and the Northwestern United States. They can also be found in parts of southern Canada adjacent to the United States.[2][3]

Size and markings[edit]

Individual spiders' colouring can range from extremely light yellow to very dark grey, but all European garden spiders have mottled markings across the back, with five or more large, white dots forming a cross. The white dots result from cells filled with guanine, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.[4]

Adult females range in length from 6.5 to 20 mm (0.26 to 0.79 in), while males range from 5.5 to 13 mm (0.22 to 0.51 in).[5] During mating, the much smaller male will approach the female cautiously. If not careful, he could end up being eaten by her (see video below).[6]


Ventral view
A courting male is consumed by the female (video, 1m 38s)

The third pair of legs of garden spiders are specialized for assisting in the spinning of orb webs. These spiders also use them to move around on their web without getting stuck. These legs are very useful only in the web; while on the ground, these legs are of little value.[citation needed] Since this tends to be a passive animal, it is difficult to provoke to bite—but if it does, the bite is just slightly unpleasant and completely harmless to humans.[3]

The webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web, or in a nearby leaf (with a signal thread attached to a leg), waiting for prey to get entangled in the web. The prey is then quickly captured and wrapped in silk before being eaten. Like many other orb weavers, the spider will use its legs to violently oscillate its web if it feels threatened, in an attempt to ward off potential predators. Orb spiders are said to eat their webs each night along with many of the small insects stuck to it. They have been observed doing this within a few minutes. A new web is then spun in the morning.[3]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nikita J. Kluge (2007). "Case 3371. Araneidae Clerck, 1758, Araneus Clerck, 1758 and Tegenaria Latreille, 1804 (Arachnida, Araneae): proposed conservation" (PDF). Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 64 (1): 15–18. 
  2. ^ Cross Orbweaver; at BugGuide online; retrieved April 2013
  3. ^ a b c Cross Spider, Washington NatureMapping Project
  4. ^ Rainer F. Foelix (1992). Biologie der Spinnen [Biology of the Spiders] (in German). Stuttgart: Thieme. ISBN 3-13-575802-8. 
  5. ^ Cross Orbweaver, Penn State Entomology
  6. ^ "European Garden Spider". , Down Gardens Services[dead link][dead link]

External links[edit]