Araneus diadematus invasius!

Araneus diademata, 2011, by Doug Swam

Araneus diademata, 2011, by Doug Swam

Here in the Bay Area, we have very few really large insects.  Aside from Jerusalem crickets, most insects and spiders here are small and scarce. But in September and October, the weather heats up, and beautiful huge orb weavers appear out of nowhere, and get big. They are the heralds of Autumn known as Araneus diadematus. Araneus is actually not a native spider, but an import from Europe, where they are very common. While they aren't considered invasive, they certainly seem to be everywhere, making gigantic sturdy orb webs over doorways, backyard paths, and gardens overnight.  There aren't really any Argiope or Nephila spiders like in the rest of the country, so people are rather shocked to suddenly be faceplanting into giant webs every morning. And I get calls every year from people curious or freaked out about them. I have certainly manage to run into one at least once a day so far this month. I don't feel too bad though, as they rebuild them quite quickly.
Araneus diademata, 2011, by Doug Swam

Araneus diademata, 2011, by Doug Swam

Araneus isn't at all aggressive, and its venom, if it ever does bite, is rather inconsequential. Mostly they're just large and in-your-face with their arachnidal corpulence, great thimble-sized beasts that impudently hang suspended in the centers of huge classic webs that can reach over 5 feet. Invariably the ones in my back yard are snacking on some hapless honeybee or crane fly. If you look nearby you can find the tiny males building webs nearby, or testing the webs to see if they can get lucky. Though many folks just call them "garden orb weavers" or the like, I recently heard that some folks instead call them "pumpkin spiders", which is wonderfully celebratory for such a distinguished spider. They arrive without fail every October heralding Halloween, and most are shaped like exotic autumn gourds themselves!
"Be happy you're not this bee", 2011, by Doug Swam

"Be happy you're not this bee", 2011, by Doug Swam

Here's a few wonderful macro photos taken by my friend Doug Swam, who shares my appreciation for these Great Ladies. Too bad they can't stick around all year.
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One Response to Araneus diadematus invasius!

  1. Carina Millers says:

    I live in Europe and grew up with them.They are indeed very handsome creatures if one takes the time to watch them building an orb net or wrapping up an insect. It’s one of the things I do every year towards the summer
    I think I must have at least a few hundred if not a thousand images of them in all sizes and colours.
    I have the habbit not to deny anyone shelter when there is bad weather approaching and keep all year around spitting spiders and a few false black widdow’s around who catch mosquito’s and other Insect’s inside the home..
    The males garden spiders are the last ones to find shelter after the females and will disappear outside when the temperature drops below 5 celsius…
    And of course they try to settle inside the house…
    They seem to spend 2-3 days observing me (maybe to see if I’m a threat or not).
    Then they make their webs – often right in the middle of the kitchen or accross the landing.Big massive nets…
    I find it in a way funny but of course I cannot let that happen. So I usually catch tjem with ease with a glass and a piece of paper and relocate them into the shed where they usually stay (in compare to some hunting spiders who will come back.).I appreciate your article that they aren’t aggressive and will try at some point to get them.on my hand instead of using a glass before relocating as I often do with the false black widdows if they are in a inconvenient place (these are very gentle and laid back spiders).

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