Quick facts

Common names: garden spider, European garden spider, cross spider

Scientific name: Araneus diadematus

Family: Araneidae

Habitat: woodland, grassland, gardens

Diet: flies, wasps and other flying insects

Predators: birds

Origin: native

What do garden spiders look like?

The garden spider is one of the UK's largest spider species. It can be identified by a distinctive white cross on the abdomen, although its overall colour can vary, ranging from red-orange to almost black.

Size: 13mm including legs

Garden spider wrapping common wasp in silk

Credit: Malcolm Schuyl / Alamy Stock Photo

What do garden spiders eat?

Flying insects are the primary food of the garden spider. To catch its prey, the spider weaves an elaborate web that traps any insects that fly into it. The vibrations of the trapped prey attract the spider, which delivers a paralysing bite. The insect is then wrapped in silk and stored for later.

Any creature that becomes trapped in the web will be eaten, with flies, wasps and butterflies all common prey.

Garden spider guarding eggs

Credit: Rod Hill / Alamy Stock Photo

How do garden spiders breed?

After mating in the summer, the female lays her eggs in a silken cocoon. She will not leave the eggs once they are laid, protecting them until the late autumn when she will succumb to the cold and die. The eggs will not hatch until May, emerging in a mass bundle of spiderlings.

Reproducing is a precarious experience for male garden spiders, as they may be killed and eaten by the female after mating.

Where do garden spiders live?

Garden spiders are extremely common and can be found across the UK. As the name suggests, they often occur in gardens, but are plentiful in more natural habitats such as woodland and grassland too.

Did you know?

A garden spider's web can be up to 40cm wide.

Signs and spotting tips

The best way to find these spiders is to look for their webs. These will be constructed in any suitable place, including windows and doorways. You are most likely to see them from April to November before the onset of cold weather.

Threats and conservation

The garden spider is not currently thought to be under threat.