Species of the Month - September 2016

Garden Spider

Araneus diadematus

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!

Araneus diadematus

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.

Araneus diadematus

In the one above the side lines of the cross are reduced.  The right-hand pic shows the underside of a Garden Spider, which has two white dots halfway down a dark central stripe.

  Araneus diadematus


Araneus diadematus

This 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 central dot.

Araneus diadematus

Garden Spider from our recent field trip to Luing, with abnormal markings and blackish ground colour

Araneus diadematus

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.

Araneus diadematus, male

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. 

Please send in
your Garden Spider 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 LNHG Facebook page.

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, behaviour    


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
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

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


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous September species:

Sep 2014 - Four-spotted Orb Weaver
Sep 2013 - Parrot Waxcap
Sep 2012- Tawny Grisette
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric

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Complete list of Species of the Month

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The 1st and 4th photos on this page are copyright Teenie Wilson and Sallie Jack respectively.
Mouse over photos to see credits.