Species of the Month - September 2014

Four-spotted Orb Weaver

Araneus quadratus

The Four-spotted Orb Weaver is worth looking out for wherever there is tall grass or similar vegetation to support the large vertical orb web which it spins between the stems.

It is probably the most conspicuous spider found in our area, and the females, which are the ones most often seen, are easily recognised by the four white spots on their rotund abdomen.  Males are much narrower and, unless one is experienced, can only be identified if they are beside a web with a female in it, so we are concentrating on the females here.

Araneus quadratus


Araneus quadratus

The Orb Weaver spins a retreat at the top of one of the stems from which its web is suspended.  It often bends more than one grass or rush inflorescence together to make this retreat.  Sometimes the female is found in or on the retreat, as in the photo below, and at other times in the centre of the web.

Araneus quadratus

The British Arachnalogcial Society map shows very few records of this spider from our area, yet it is very common here and almost certainly occurs in every 1 km square in the vice-county.  The LNHG aims to correct the misleading impression given by maps like this, so hopefully we can fill in some of the blanks this month.  The page quoted also has a phenology chart showing that September is the peak time for seeing the females.

Araneus quadratus

Araneus quadratus

The spider comes in a variety of colours: green, yellow, orange, brown, red.  This photo by Jan Hamilton shows that the retreat is very noticeable even when the spider is away from it, and the best way to locate these spiders is to scan the area around you for these tangled webby grass heads.

Please send in your Four-spotted Orb Weaver sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your spider, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LORN forum and let me know it is there.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat   


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

1 Sep: Seen at Taynuilt

2 Sep: Seen near Altnafeadh, E of Glencoe

6 Sep: Frequently seen during SWT Marsh Fritillary count at Ballachuan.  Several of these were spotted by Ann Tully.

8 Sep: Seen on Meall Mor, Glencoe

12 Sep: Seen north of Baleveolan, Lismore

16 Sep: Seen at Kilcheran, Lismore

20 Sep: Seen at Inverawe

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Aug 2014 - Pale Butterwort
Jul 2014 - Melancholy Thistle
Jun 2014 - Forester Moth
May 2014 - Large Red Damselfly

Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Mar 2014 - Hairy Bittercress
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Jan 2014 - Velvet Shank
Dec 2013 - Frilly-fruited Jelly Lichen
Nov 2013 - Whooper Swan
Oct 2013 - Ballerina Waxcap
Sep 2013 - Parrot Waxcap
Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth

Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
May 2013 - Early Purple Orchid
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Mar 2013 - Oak Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort

Jan 2013 - Willow Jelly Button & Birch Jelly Button
Dec 2012 - Dice Lichen
Nov 2012 - Feathered Thorn
Oct 2012 - Dryad's Saddle
Sep 2012 - Tawny Grisette
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The last 2 photos are Jan Hamilton.