One of the things that I love most about my job is the chance to learn something new and exciting everyday, even when I am on vacation. For instance, while I was home in the SF Bay Area last weekend, my dad decided to show me a number of cool spiders that he has found recently while gardening. One of them was this beautiful, and seemingly common orbweaver, Araneus diadematus. I’m sure that I saw this species a thousand times growing up, but being afraid of spiders, never took the time to really appreciate how interesting and beautiful it really is. Here are a couple pictures I took of a male next to my parents’ house, but if you click on a few of the hyperlinks in this post, you can see some professional photos of them. ARKive has some great videos, as well.
Some facts about Araneus diadematus:
- Commonly known as the “European Garden Spider,” or the “Cross Orbweaver.” The “Cross” name comes from the distinctive pattern on the dorsal side (the “back”) of the abdomen.
- Occurs throughout North America and Europe.
- Sexual cannibalism does occur in this species. In this case, females will sometimes eat males either before or after sex, depending on a variety of physical states (e.g. how hungry she is). (See: Roggenbucketal2011)
- Like many orbweavers, individuals will take down their webs at night, eat the web (along with any insects that are caught in the web), and build a new web in the morning.
- Spiderlings disperse through a behavior called “ballooning,” in which individuals release a bit of silk that catches in the wind, carrying the spider away from its original home. (More info on ballooning in spiders)