Garden spiders bounce in their webs to confuse predators
Garden Spider Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Araneus diadematus
Garden Spider Conservation Status
Garden Spider Facts
- Main Prey
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- Garden spiders bounce in their webs to confuse predators
- Estimated Population Size
- Biggest Threat
- Birds and other predators
- Most Distinctive Feature
- White cross marking on the abdomen
- Distinctive Feature
- Neat, radial-style webs
- Other Name(s)
- Cross spider, diadem spider, crowned orb weaver, pumpkin spider, European garden spider
- Gestation Period
- A few weeks
Known for their distinctive radial-style webs, garden spiders are a common sight throughout much of Europe and North America. They live in various habitats, although you can usually find their large webs in and around gardens, hence their name. Despite their imposing size, they are not overly aggressive or dangerous to humans. In fact, many people consider them beneficial because they often prey on pests.
5 Garden Spider Facts
- Garden spiders can take down prey that measure over two times their size.
- Every night, garden spiders take down, roll up, and eat their webs so that they can recycle the protein in the silk.
- Given their poor eyesight, garden spiders communicate by sensing vibrations in their webs and detecting air currents.
- Garden spiders may “bounce” on their webs when threatened to confuse predators.
- Garden spiderlings travel via “ballooning,” wherein they use their silk as sails to catch the wind and soar to new territories.
Garden Spider Species, Types, and Scientific Name
The term garden spider can refer to many different species of spider in the family Araneidae, or orb weaver spiders. The family includes over 3,067 species in 177 genera, making it the third-largest spider family in the world. That said, when people talk about garden spiders, they are usually referring to the common garden spider, also known as the European garden spider, Araneus diadematus. In addition to simply the garden spider, it goes by several other names, including the diadem spider, cross spider, crowned orb weaver, and pumpkin spider. Its scientific name derives from the Greek and Latin words diadema, meaning “crown,” and atus, meaning “like.”
While most people mean Araneus diadematus when they refer to garden spiders, numerous other spiders have similar names. They include:
- Argiope aurantia – Yellow garden spider
- Argiope appensa – Hawaiian garden spider
- Argiope trifasciata – Banded garden spider
- Argiope argentata – Silver garden spider
Appearance: How to Identify Garden Spiders
Garden spiders display sexual dimorphism, with females measuring larger than males. Females range in length between 6.5 and 20 millimeters, while males vary from 5.5 to 13 millimeters long. Depending on the specimen, they come in a range of colors, including dark gray, light yellow, orangish-red, and dark brown. That said, all garden spiders feature characteristic white markings across the dorsal side of the abdomen. These markings form the shape of a cross similar to a fleur de lis, hence the reason behind one of its common names, the cross spider. The abdomen appears quite bulbous and sports a covering of tiny hairs. Meanwhile, longer hairs cover the cephalothorax. Like all spiders, they possess eight legs, four to each side, which are covered in spiky hairs.
Habitat: Where to Find Garden Spiders
Originally hailing from Europe, you can now find garden spiders throughout North America. They typically live in grasslands, parks, and gardens, hence their name. They require access to moisture and plenty of sites that they can use to attach their webs. Common sites for their webs include trees, bushes, shrubs, and flowers. However, they will also readily make use of human structures such as doorways, windows, or posts.
Garden spiders construct distinctive radial-style webs perpendicular to the ground. The first web they construct almost always looks nearly perfect but doesn’t remain so for long. At the end of each day, they deconstruct, roll up, and consume the silk so they can recycle the protein and make new silk. The average web contains between 25 and 30 radial threads consisting of regular angles between 12 and 15 degrees. Typically, the webs of younger spiders feature more radii than the webs of older spiders. At their largest, garden spider webs can measure nearly 20 centimeters in diameter.
Diet: What Do Garden Spiders Eat?
Like all spiders, garden spiders are carnivores that prey on insects and other invertebrates. They prey primarily on flying insects that stumble into their webs, such as flies, moths, mosquitos, and beetles. In addition, females may cannibalize males either before or after mating.
Garden spiders possess poor eyesight, so they must rely on other senses to hunt for food. To catch their prey, they wait near the edges of their webs or in a silken retreat. They monitor their web by holding onto a signal thread with one of the claws on their feet. If they sense any vibrations, they will rush forward to inject their unfortunate prey with paralyzing venom. This venom serves a dual purpose: it helps to sedate their meal and protect the spiders from potential injury. With their prey paralyzed, garden spiders then set about wrapping up their meal with silk. Depending on how much prey is readily available, they may consume their food immediately or save it for later.
Prevention: How to Get Rid of Garden Spiders
For the most part, garden spiders aren’t something you want to worry about getting rid of. As their name implies, they mostly build their webs outdoors in gardens, parks, and fields. They rarely make their way inside homes, which reduces the need to remove them. In addition, many people consider them beneficial because they prey on garden pests. However, if you decide you want to get rid of garden spiders, there are a few things you can do. First, minimize places for them to hide or build their webs. Next, down any spider webs that you come across. Finally, if you’re really serious, you use insecticides to kill off their food sources.
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Garden Spider FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are garden spiders dangerous?
No, garden spiders do not pose any danger to humans. At worst, their bite can cause some mild pain, redness, and swelling.
How many legs do garden spiders have?
Like all spiders, garden spiders possess eight legs.
How do you identify garden spiders?
Garden spiders typically look dark grey to light yellow and feature a white cross on the dorsal side of the abdomen.
How do you get rid of garden spiders?
Garden spiders are beneficial, so you may not want to get ride of them. However, they easiest way to remove them is to destroy their webs or kill off their food sources.
Are garden spiders aggressive?
Female garden spiders are more likely to bite than males but aren’t considered aggressive. Meanwhile, males prefer to run or play dead rather than bite.
Are garden spiders poisonous?
Like almost all spiders, garden spiders are venomous. They possess a paralytic poison that they use to immobilize their prey.
What happens if you get bit by a garden spider?
Typically, garden spider bites pose no danger, as many bites are dry, meaning they inject no venom. If you are bit, worst-case symptoms include mild pain, swelling, and redness.
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- , Available here: https://britishspiders.org.uk/araneus-diadematus
- , Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/araneus-diadematus
- , Available here: https://extension.psu.edu/cross-orbweaver-spider