Garden spiders are found on many continents throughout the globe. As their name suggests, they can be found outdoors and in gardens.
Garden spiders also are known as orb weavers due to their orb-shaped, delicate webs. Even garden spiderlings are capable of spinning these intricate structures without the assistance of mature spiders.
Habitat & Behavior
As their name suggests, garden spiders are most commonly found in gardens, meadows and clearings.
The most important determining factor in the dwelling place of the garden spider is the presence of twigs, trees, branches or plant leaves on which to construct webs. Garden spider webs are notoriously strong and may reach more than 60 cm in diameter.
Most garden spider habitats are also populated with a variety of potential prey. After prey becomes entangled in the web, garden spiders immobilize their victims and drag them to the center of the web. Prey must be liquefied with digestive enzymes before consumption is possible.
The webs of garden spiders are notoriously strong. The garden spider uses its web to capture food. Although their eyesight is poor, garden spiders are extremely sensitive to vibrations along the strands of their webs. Positioning themselves at the center of their web, garden spiders hang upside down, jump on prey and paralyze it with injected venom. Like other spiders, garden spiders must liquefy their prey in order to consume it.
The garden spider also uses its extraordinary sense of touch for mating, as males tap upon the webs of females to express their intent. Because males spend the mating season obsessively seeking partners, they typically die of exhaustion and malnutrition following fertilization.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
In autumn months, garden spiders lay their eggs in silken sacs that contain between 50 and several hundred eggs. The garden spider’s egg sac is relatively spherical, although one end is narrower than the other. Covered in brown-colored silk, they are strong enough to withstand winds and attacks from most predators.
Young spiderlings overwinter within their eggs. In spring, they hatch and disperse. Garden spider egg sacs are nearly the size of adult garden spiders and are attached to webs. When spiderlings hatch, they are thus in close proximity to captured prey and will not go hungry. Female garden spiders die soon after laying their eggs and are not able to protect or assist their spiderlings.
Do They Bite? Are They Poisonous?
Garden spiders typically are not aggressive and are not known to be medically important. It is unlikely that bites would occur unless someone disturbed a female in her web or gave reason for a garden spider to feel threatened. In the unlikely event of a bite, symptoms generally include mild swelling and discomfort that is rarely as painful as a wasp or bee sting.