Friday, 25 September 2009


You know Autumn has arrived when everywhere is covered by spider's webs and you can't even leave the house without getting tangled up in the gossamer strands which have been spun across your front door. Now, anyone will tell you that I am afraid of these eight-legged little horrors, but here goes...
The Garden spider (Araneus diadematus) is among the most common species in Britain and at this time of year they seem to be particularly prevalent.
One of the group known as Orb-Web Spiders, they spin fantastic webs of classic shape and form with radiating 'spokes' and a spiral of silk holding it all together. The silk is spun and woven into place with the aid of the third pair of limbs. These limbs are of little use to the spider on the ground but are invaluable for getting about on the web without becoming entangled.
Webs are spun mostly by the larger females which then sit, head down, waiting for a stray insect to stumble into it.
These spiders are said to eat their webs (including anything caught in it) each night before spinning a fresh one in the morning.
As with many spider species, the smaller males have to be very wary when courting the females, so as not to end up an appetiser on her menu. This spider is mature from summer to autumn and is usually at its largest in late Autumn when it is at its oldest and often full of eggs. After laying their eggs the females die and only the eggs and the spiders that hatched in spring that year will over winter.
Charming little blighters aren't they?
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