Species of the Month - September 2016
The Garden Spider is one of our most conspicuous species, especially in September, with fat females sitting in the centre of large webs up to 40 cm across. Despite its abundance, the Spider Recording Scheme map shows Argyll almost empty of this species, so lets try and put that right. There's no excuse as they rate it as one of the easiest spiders to identify!
The spider can be any
colour from yellow to black, but is usually some shade of brown, as in
this photo by Teenie Wilson which shows the typical abdomen pattern,
with two vertical and two horizontal lines forming a cross with a dot in
the middle. Variations on this pattern are common however.
one photographed by Sallie Jack on a house wall is even more untypical, with the 2
side-arms of the cross replaced by 4 spots forming an X around the
Garden Spider from our
recent field trip to Luing, with abnormal markings and blackish ground
This one, with normal markings, has taken two prey items to its retreat area at the end of a signal-line from the web. Unlike its relative the 4-spotted Orb-weaver, which we featured in September 2014, the Garden Spider does not build a large tent-like retreat out of silk but relies on being unnoticed among the moss, bark or leaves at the end of its signal-line.
The Garden Spider
generally makes its web higher off the ground than the 4-spotted
Orb-weaver, often at around human head height. While the 4-spotted Orb-weaver often has its web between grass
or rush stems in open country, the Garden Spider web is typically found
in more bushy or wooded habitats, including gardens. There is much overlap in habitat
between the two species though. Gorse bushes are
a good place to look for Garden Spider webs.
This is a male, with its abdomen hardly longer than the head and thorax. All the other photos on this page are females.
Nick's Spiders has many more good photos of the Garden Spider, including aberrant forms.
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Sep 5: Seen in web between rose bush and house wall at Onich by Sallie Jack
Sep 7: Female in walled garden, Glencruitten, Carl
Sep 10: Female in web at Lochgoilhead, Carl
Sep 17: Female in web on Eilean na Gamhna, Lismore, Tony Mitchell-Jones