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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
51 thoughts on “Araneus diadematus – The European Garden Spider”
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.
This is a European garden spider – Araneus diadematus. More information here: http://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Thanks! Lots of variations in color made if hard for me to be sure. Have a great autumn
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!
Hi Luke, thanks for uploading this great shot! This is definitely an Araneus diadematus – European garden spider.
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.
Hello Randy, thanks for getting in touch and for uploading these great shots! This is a male European garden spider, or cross spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
It’s not a medically significant spider.
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.
Hello Larry, thanks for getting in touch! This is some type of orb weaver of the genus Araneus. A number of spiders in this genus can have a similar appearance. Given your location in the Northeastern U.S., it’s probably a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Hi from Virginia- saw this spider sitting it’s web out on the deck. European garden spider? Wow it is big! Thanks
Hello Erik, this is a spotted orbweaver in the genus Neoscona. Probably Neoscona domiciliorum or Neoscona crucifera: https://usaspiders.com/neoscona-crucifera-spotted-orb-weaver/
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.
Don’t think it’s wolf spider bcs most wolf don’t make webs
Hello Teresa, you are right, this is not a wolf spider. This is definitely an orbweaving spider. The color pattern on the underside suggest that it is Araneus sp., possibly Araneus diadematus, a European garden spider: https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found in Wisconsin
Hello Karlyn, thanks for getting in touch! This is a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus). It’s an orbweaver spider that will catch flying insects with its web. It’s not medically significant for humans or pets. Here is more information about it: https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found this one in our car’s doorjam in Northern California. I was not able to find it using the tool. Thanks
Hi Nico, thanks for getting in touch and for sharing this great shot! This is a European garden spider, also called cross orbweaver (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
it’s not medically significant and spins large orb-shaped webs to catch flying insects.
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
Hello Jenny, thanks for getting in touch! This is definitely a female orbweaver in the genus Araneus. It could be a cross orbweaver (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
But I would need to see a picture of the back to definitely confirm that. It’s definitely not a medically significant spider and will catch annoying flies and mosquitoes.
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!
Hello Linda, thanks for getting in touch! This is definitely a female orb weaver of the genus Araneus. I am fairly certain that this is a European garden spider (Araneus deiadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
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?
Hello Julie, thanks for getting in touch! This is a European garden spider, an orbweaver (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found this in my backyard, I live in New York.
Hello Leah, thanks for getting in touch! This is a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found this friend under our porch. Round web.
Hello Brian, this is a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
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
Hello Fran, this is a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
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
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.
Hello Ali, hello Bill, this is a European garden spider (or cross orbweaver): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
It’s not medically significant and great to have around for insect control.
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!
Hello Bill, this is definitely a harmless orbweaver spider in the genus Araneus. Most likely a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
This is a second picture of the spider in the window in NJ
Hello, I live in Seattle, Washington and I came across these spiders in my house this morning, near an open screened window. They are extremely small — roughly the size of a poppy seed — and were all grouped together like this, excluding a few outliers. They are yellow with chubby bodies and legs that are more or less the same length; the cephalothorax (I believe) is more of a light brown. The abdomen is yellow and they have dark brown (maybe black) spots on their butt ends. They are too small to get a good look at their eyes, unfortunately. I’m not 100% sure on the web type, but I think it was kind of erratic and without pattern.
I tried looking through several websites on common spiders in WA, but nothing similar to these guys seemed to come up. I’m more curious than anything about what type they are; thanks in advance for your help!
Hello Kimiko, this looks like a bunch of newly hatched spiderlings. It’s not really possible to make a confident ID off the photo due to the quality. But I would say that these are some types of orbweavers. The darker spot might suggest Araneus diadematus. Here is a photo of a similar-looking group: https://bugguide.net/node/view/604825
Spiderlings outside my sliding glass door, on a 2-3ft long strand of web from a terra-cotta watering pot to the glass door. Barely visible, about half the size of a flee.
I could not get a face shot to count the eyes.
One of our cats, has hunted down Brown Recluse Spider … and had some necrosis in his mouth. Hoping that this is not a large infestation. We have been trying all kinds of techniques to protect our cat.
Hello Tim, these are definitely not brown recluses. They are orbweaver spiderlings. A definitive ID of spiderlings is close to impossible but this could be European garden spiders (Araneus diadematus). They are definitely not medically significant.
Spider found in web
Hi Brooke, this is definitely an orb weaver of the genus Araneus. Most likely Araneus diadematus: https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found on a plant in ROSELLE, il
Hello Peggy, this is a cross orbweaver (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
Found on the tailgate of our truck. We could have brought it home from a forest near the Oregon coast. We live 100 miles inland from there.
Hi Dee, this is a male European garden spider (Araneus diadematus): https://usaspiders.com/araneus-diadematus-european-garden-spider/
They are very common throughout the US.
If you are interested in learning more about spiders in Oregon, check out our Oregon spider identification and information book – available as an ebook here or as a printed paperback on Amazon.
I just came across this big spider in Colorado, and I wanted to make sure it was a European garden spider. Gotta make sure the fur-babies are safe if it is a dangerous species. It was not exactly like the pictures online. The the web was messy and like trying to break human hair, it was so strong! The spider was about the size of a quarter including legs when tucked slightly.
Eastern Massachusetts. What species is this? Wolf or Orb spider or something else?
Hello Sean, this is an orbweaver of the genus Araneidae.