Araneus diadematus – The European Garden Spider

Araneus diadematus, also called the European garden spider or the cross spider is an orb weaver spider with an iconic white cross on its body. It is found in every US state and across Europe.

The European garden spider is one of the more interesting spiders to watch. It will come out at around dusk every evening and sit calmly in the center of its web, always with its head towards the ground.

Araneus diadematus - European Garden spider
A European Garden Spider in its web. Photography by: Erin Foster – Howell, Michigan

When it is not in its web, it will hide a short ways away from the web with a single trigger line attached, so it can feel the vibrations if the web is disturbed by prey. If the web should happen to be knocked down in the day, the European garden spider will just rebuild a new web in the same place.

One interesting fact is that the first web they build is always their most perfect web. Every time they have to rebuild the web, there will be more and more flaws in the construction. Which really blows the whole “Practice makes perfect” cliché out of the water.

Araneus Diadematus Description

Araneus diadematus on the ground
Photography by: K. J. Ester – Madison Heights, Michigan

The most distinctive marking to identify the Araneus diadematus are the five or more whitish markings on the back. These form a fancy cross. The Abdomen is bulbous and spiky hairs cover their legs. The abdomen is covered with tiny thin hairs. The cephalothorax is covered with thicker longer hairs, almost as if it has fur.

Size

The A. diadematus grows to be about 3/4 (19 mm) of an inch. Including the legs, the Cross Spider can grow to over an inch (25 mm).

Eye pattern

The Orb weaver has eight eyes. But to the human eye, if you can see them at all, the European garden spider looks to have only six eyes. They seem to have a row of four eyes across the bottom and a pair of eyes in the center, just above the four. However, the outer eyes of the row of four are actually a set of two eyes on each side arranged very close together.

Web

Orb Weavers spin a web that is circular like a vertical net meant for catching flying insects. There are a few reports stating that in the mornings, that some Orb Weaver have been observed, eating their webs before hiding away for the day.

Bites

At its worst, the bite of a Garden Orb Weaver is no worse than a bee sting. The symptoms are almost, always, negligible, but on a rare occasion, will cause mild pain and local swelling.

Araneus diadematus scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Genus: Araneus
  • Species: A. diadematus

Various Common Names

European garden spider, cross spider, diadem spider, Orangie, crowned orb weaver, pumpkin spider

Araneus diadematus Distribution in the US

The European garden spider can be found in the Northern United States: Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Araneus diadematus – The European Garden Spider

38 thoughts on “Araneus diadematus – The European Garden Spider

  1. I know this an Orb-weaver spider, but not sure of the exact kind. It was bigger than the bumblebee it had captured and was living under the petals of a sunflower in east central Wisconsin. Huge abdomen, light brownish yellow body with cream markings on the back.

  2. Hi,

    This spider is fairly large, I would say its abdomen is around the size of a penny. It has built an orb-like web. I live in Wisconsin.

    I think it could be a giant lichen orb weaver or a European garden spider. Thanks!

    1. Hi Luke, thanks for uploading this great shot! This is definitely an Araneus diadematus – European garden spider.

    2. OMG these are infesting my roomate and I’s dorm because they were getting in through the window screen before we noticed and I am terrified. It looks exactly like the one you found thanks for helping me figure it out.

  3. I can’t find this industrious orb web weaver on your site.
    Here it is, on my porch in Providence RI, freshly molted.
    Eats its web before storms; often rebuilds in new location.

  4. This spider has been living in our tomatoes! He has very sturdy webs that span over 6ft. He likes hanging out on our string lights looking down on the tomatoes.

  5. This spider lives right outside my window, usually hanging around in the middle of its perfect round web, usually when it’s getting darker it likes to come in this crevice ..this was the best I could take of it, looks like it caught something too

    Found in upstate NY

  6. I live in Gig Harbor, Washington, and during this past week’s rain, I’ve noticed this spider hanging from a web off the pergola roof in my backyard. It looks like a false widow, but has bands on its legs. Please identify it and thank you!

  7. Found this interesting spider while out cleaning up around the outside of the barn area. Didn’t find it on a web. Didn’t seem to be too worried about us. Since I found it interesting, I took it’s pic and went about my way. No spineret on the back, a little hair on it’s banded legs. Just curious if maybe it’s part of the orb weaver family?

  8. This spider is on the fence outside of my house in Bridgeport Connecticut. The sheer size of the web blows me away. And he looks like he’s got a little hooks on the end of his front legs

  9. Portland, Oregon
    Dwells above door or in ceiling corner in laundry room in invisible web. Slightly larger than a quarter, tan or yellow, banded legs, pattern on abdomen, long front and back legs, short 3rd set of legs
    -Ali

    1. That looks/sounds exactly like the spider in our window in NJ, that we are trying to identify! If you get an answer, I’d appreciate a reply to my reply so I know it.

  10. This spider is in a web in our window (upstairs) in northern NJ; we’re trying to determine if it’s dangerous. Unfortunately its location makes is impossible to get a good picture; I got one from its underside (through the window) and one (with difficulty) from the side. Your system appears only to allow one picture, so I will make two posts to provide both.

    It’s very large for NJ; bigger than a quarter as positioned (not fully stretched.) Light brown with very dark leg bands. Can’t glimpse any distinctive markings on top. Help identifying would be much appreciated!

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