Not-So-Innocent Garden Spider

UK Garden Spider

European Garden Spider

I’m not a big fan of spiders. They may be intellectually fascinating, but downright creepy otherwise. Just the other day I walked through a spider web thread in our conservatory. I didn’t think much of it and brushed the thread away. Back inside the house, I looked down and saw a giant, and I mean GIANT, spider on my collar. I screamed. The cat jumped. I flicked and stomped. The cat jumped again. I sighed. I reassured the cat. All was well in my world again.

So what was I thinking when I spotted in my garden several large spiders perched on their webs? Please don’t jump, bite, or be poisonous! Not knowing much about British bugs*, I had no clue, so I went online to learn that I’d met Araneus diadematus (a.k.a.  the cross spider, European garden spider, diadem spider, or cross orbweaver).

Should it comfort me that the garden spider is very common here in Western Europe? Hmm. Although common, not all garden spiders look alike. I learned from NatureMapping Program that individual spiders can range from light yellow, to orange-brown or dark grey. Despite color variations, however, all European garden spiders have mottled markings across the back with five or more large white dots forming a cross, hence the common name of cross spider. (I did not see this, because I am not trampling into the plants and through the webs to get a look at the spider’s other side.)

Once I knew their name it was rather easy to find out more about their nature. On UK Safari’s Is This A Deadly Spider? section, I learned that the UK has no particularly dangerous spiders (Whew!), but (BUT?!? Grrrr.) European garden spiders have been reported biting occasionally, causing inflammation and itching for a day or two. Not terrible, but I’ll keep my distance, thank you very much. As long as they stay in the garden, I’ll leave them alone. But let that conservatory spider be a warning to the rest of the bunch. (And, to be fair, I’ll remember to close the conservatory windows from now on.)

*I know spiders are not technically bugs, they are arachnids, but I like the alliteration.

EDIT (14 Oct. 2012): I came across another European Garden Spider and was able to get a picture of its back.

European Garden Spider

About satnavandcider

An American expat living in England, exploring the United Kingdom and Europe through five senses and a camera lens.
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13 Responses to Not-So-Innocent Garden Spider

  1. Vicky says:

    I’ve often wondered how many spiders we share our homes with. I’ve had two massives ones in mine in the last week.

  2. That’s a great shot of one scary spider!

  3. I think “bug” should encompass insects, arachnids, millipedes and all manner of creepy crawlies rather than just standing in as a synonym for “insect.” that way we wouldn’t have to sacrifice scientific accuracy for the best alliterative word choice. Enjoyed the funny story! I am something of a bug person but even I wouldn’t enjoy finding a large uninvited hitchhiker on my collar and have been known to scream, flick and stomp when surprised.

    • I hate the use of the word ‘bug’ for all insects, spiders, etc. It is pejorative (bed bugs, etc.) and extrmely misleading. I prefer it to be used for what we are now forced to call ‘true bugs’, i.e. those in the order Hemiptera. It is, alas, too late now. Yet another Americansim that has been forced on us!

  4. leiah says:

    People can also be bugs LOL.

  5. Eww! I get the chills just reading it. I’m a big arachnaphobe. Funny how they’re called garden spiders. As opposed to bathroom spiders? Or living room spiders?

    • zap says:

      there’s about 50 of them in my garden each year, never found one making a web inside my house

      • Exactly – the spider featured is a Garden Spidfer, Araneus diadematus. It may be found in cool conservatories, but always in the garden. They are harmless and their webs among the most intricate of animnal constructions.

  6. Pingback: Araneus Diadematus | Say It With A Camera

  7. P Johnson says:

    I had a female European garden spider, looking exactly like the picture above, in my living room window (on the outside) for about a month in 2012. After screaming and jumping for several seconds, we became friends and I named her Fluffy. When Hurricane Sandy hit, I was sure I’d lose her, but she survived, only to disappear shortly thereafter, presumably from reaching the end of her lifecycle after laying her eggs. I now have the male version in my kitchen window. I think I’ll name him Buffy. My cat loves to sit and gaze at him from a ledge inside the window. I am more terrified of spiders than anything, but these creatures are special!

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