Our Wild Neighbors

European Garden Spider

Araneus diadematus

Across Canada, it lives near homes and trees

Image of a European Garden Spider, mounted and dried, seen in profile facing right.

Description of the animal

  • The male is much smaller than the female. The male’s abdomen is less than one centimetre long while the female’s abdomen, which is more voluminous and rounded, can measure two centimetres.
  • Clear cross-shaped design on its abdomen.
  • Variable colour, ranges from light yellow to brownish black.
  • Four sets of legs, like all spiders. The first pair are longer legs used to detect vibrations on its web.
  • Two appendages used to store sperm are located in front of its walking legs.
  • Three pairs of spinnerets that secrete silk are located at the tip of its abdomen.

Habitat and needs

  • Weaves large webs in geometric patterns. Its webs can measure up to one metre in diameter. The Garden Spider rebuilds its web every morning and eats the one made the previous day.
  • Only breeds once in its lifetime. The male must be extremely cautious when a female spider approaches since it can attack and devour it. The male flees after fertilizing the female. The female withdraws to build a cocoon where it will deposit its eggs. It dies a short time later. At birth, in spring, its young are miniature garden spiders.
  • Spends a great deal of time in the centre of its web, with its head pointing downwards and its front legs stretched out to detect vibrations. When the Garden Spider captures prey, it kills it with its venom then wraps it in silk before eating it. It can also set it aside for a future meal.
  • Rapidly shakes its web when it feels threatened. It can parachute to the ground on a silk thread.

Relationship

  • The Garden Spider is common in gardens and around homes, especially if there are trees nearby. It can sometimes be found in homes.
  • It helps reduce the insect pest population.
  • Applying a Garden Spider’s web to a cut can help stop bleeding.
  • The Garden Spider is the spider found in Hergé’s Tintin et l’étoile mystérieuse book.

Living with them

  • Avoid disturbing a Garden Spider or touching it with bare hands since it can bite. Its bite is not dangerous, however.
  • Finding many Garden Spiders around homes indicates that the insects they eat are found in profusion. To control the Garden Spider population, you can:
  • Fill or seal obvious cracks or spaces around the foundation or ground-level doors and windows.
  • Remove or relocate piles of wood, bricks, or debris that attract insects.
  • Replace clear light bulbs with yellow light bulbs that are less attractive to insects.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen