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 one 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 (19mm) of an inch. Including the legs, the Cross Spider can grow to over an inch (25mm).

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 every US state – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Araneus diadematus – The European Garden Spider

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