Thanks go to Misty Dawn who hosts this meme. Click here to see more camera-worthy critters.The European garden spiders (Araneus diadematus) are busy everywhere spinning their delicate death traps for unwary insects. Are they stocking up their larders or preparing packed lunches for a day out?
This very common orb-weaving spider is also known as the diadem spider or cross spider. Its colouring varies from very pale yellow to extremely dark grey but all members have mottled markings on their backs with five or more large white spots forming a cross. They have been known to stridulate when threatened and while they are not aggressive, a bite from them is a little unpleasant but quite harmless to humans.
The female spins the web and rests head down waiting for prey to stumble into her sticky silken snare. Quickly she captures and wraps her victim before consuming it.
Every night she eats her web with any remaining small prisoners - this takes about two minutes - and the next morning she spins a fresh web. On fine September mornings it is a joy to walk in open spaces and see hundreds of dew-bejewelled webs shimmering in the sun.
Araneus diadematus will die in late autumn. Before this she will have mated with one of the much smaller males - they must approach carefully at risk of death - and build a silken cocoon in which she lays her eggs. The spiderlings will hatch the following May.