This Garden spider (Araneus diadematus) was doing a spot of web maintenance as I passed by and I – rather fancifully, I admit – thought it looked just like it was playing a game of peek-a-boo.
I know a lot of people freak out about spiders but these are not dangerous in any way and they’re incredibly beautiful. They’re Garden spiders (Araneus diadematus), and are also known as Crowned orb weavers, Garden cross spiders and Diadem spiders because of the intricate crown-like patterns on their backs. And it’s those patterns that I want to focus on here.
As you can see below, the designs vary from spider to spider, a little like fingerprints and retina patterns in humans. As you can also see, their colours are quite varied, ranging from an orangey brown right through to very dark brown, verging on black. So, next time you spot one of their large webs strung across the plants in your garden, take a closer look … and be amazed.
I don’t often share images of spiders because I don’t care for them much. I don’t mind large spiders because you can see them – most of the time you know exactly where they are. It’s the smaller spiders I don’t like, the ones that sneak around, hiding in dark corners or walking upside down on the bathroom ceiling, ready to abseil down when I’m having a shower. However, I know my feelings towards these mostly harmless little creatures are irrational so I’ve been making more of an effort lately to photograph them. And they can be really rather handsome.
Take this creature, for instance. This is the European garden spider, Araneus diadematus, also known as the Crowned orb weaver, the Diadem spider or the Cross spider. Although, as you can see from my photos, its colours are quite variable, the white markings on its abdomen form a distinctive cross pattern. And, although it’s called a garden spider, really much of Europe and North America is its garden. Also, from what I’ve seen of them, these spiders don’t try to hide – they sit quite blatantly in the centres of their webs, with that ‘I don’t know what you are. I don’t know what you want. But I will catch you. And I will suck the juices out of you’ kind of attitude!