Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)
(aka Cross Spider)
Garden Spider, Edinburgh, Scotland, September 2001 - click for larger image Edinburgh, Scotland
September 2001

These are common spiders found in gardens and also known as Cross Spiders because of the white cross pattern on the back.

They belong to a group known as Orb Spiders because of the large orb webs that they spin which can be up to one metre in diameter.

The webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web, as in this photo, waiting for prey to get entangled in the web. The prey is then quickly captured and wrapped in silk before being eaten. 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 couple of minutes. A new web is then spun in the morning.

The much smaller male will approach the female cautiously in order to mate. If not careful, he could end up being eaten by her.

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