Previously, I wrote a post about the end of summer. One of the photos I uploaded had a certain spider which was of a light green colour with stripy legs. Having gone back to find this spider, I was given a nice photographing opportunity. I also did some research and found out the name of this massive beast. Araneus quadratus otherwise known as the four-spot orb weaver. This is the heaviest British spider and judging by the number of dead bee corpses under her web, I am not surprised. According to the British Arachnological Society, bees were one of the main insects that these spiders feast on. It is also apparent that the one I photographed is a female due to the large bum she has. Males are considerably smaller and have a less inflated backside!
Another interesting thing about four-spots that set them aside from other orb weaver spiders is that the females build a home that they hide in during the day for safety and for shade from things like rain. This was the main reason why I had trouble photographing this spider during the day, she had manage to build a home by webbing three lavendar heads together to create a sort of ‘roof’. When she was hidden in her home, you couldn’t get a clear shot.
Spiders from the genus Araneus are known to eat their webs to save protein and rebuild them. The really large webs that you tend to notice during autumn belong to Araneus spiders and are more noticeable in the early hours of the day as dew tends to settle on the web. I’ve seen webs created by Araneus diadematus (cross spiders/garden spiders) that are two metres long! There is little infomation on the life cycle of four-spot orb weavers, although the British Arachnological Society mentions that they mature in one season and mate in autumn. Cross spiders are more widely studied and they mate and lay eggs in autumn. They do not survive through winter. I could not find any infomation on whether this was the case for four-spot spides. If it is, then the four-spot spider outside of my house might not be there much longer. It’ll be interesting to see whether she will survive winter, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her.