It’s that time of year when on misty mornings the trees and shrubs – and just about any amenable surface – are festooned with the webs of garden spiders (Araneus diadematus). This time last year I posted about an arachnid encounter that occurred outside my back door and this year seems to be a good year for them and my garden is full of them.
The lady in these photographs was spotted by my son and it is the biggest example of this species that I’ve ever seen. The data I’ve seen for them suggests a maximum body size of 18-20mm, she’s all of that and her leg span is around 4cm. She’s in her web outside a first floor window and is still clearly visible from the ground when she’s hiding under the guttering. She really is huge.
Garden spiders are a genus of the ‘orb weaver’ spiders, so named because the webs they build are circular, or orb shaped. The webs can be seen in hedgerows and window frames and just about anywhere else outside at the moment, laden with dew and glistening in the early morning sunshine.
The one below was outside my kitchen window and was in the process of encasing what I think is a male small tortoiseshell butterfly in a silken coffin. It looks as though the butterfly put up a respectable fight as half the web was shredded, but to avail. The spider was poised for some time with its fangs in the body of the butterfly and was completely unfazed by me taking flash photographs within a few inches
They have rather interesting markings too, and another name for them is the ‘cross spider’ from the ornate cream coloured cross on the back of the abdomen. My daughter thinks the cross resembles a design from a stained glass window from a church. Spectacular creatures!