Bug Blog

Thousands of Spiders Invade Britain

Thousands of Spiders Invade Britain

Yes, they come in groups of hundreds, herded together in protective clusters by their mothers. The mother keeps them safe by fashioning a web-like home out of a thick layer of yellow silk, combined with handy materials like fecal matter, dead bugs, and other unsavory items.

These tiny critters are the babies who will eventually grow into an adult European Garden Spider, also known as araenus diadematus or the “cross orbweaver.”

Their size can only be appreciated by the large number – in the hundreds – that crowd together in the space the size of a quarter.  These prodigious arachnids are bright yellow and carry a single distinguishing black splotch on their backs.  The mother lays 300 to 800 eggs at a time, each autumn.

Although creepy to look at because of their sheer numbers, this spider is one of the most useful to gardeners.  The orbweaver is a fierce predator who kills and eats all sorts of flying bugs known to be enemies of gardeners.

Experts advise keeping a distance from the hatchlings, however.  If the cocoon-like mass is touched, the spiders will suddenly veer off in every direction, according to a spokesman from the British Arachnological Society.

“If disturbed, the bundle of babies will ‘explode’, with individual spiderlings dispersing away from each other on tiny silken safety lines. Once the danger has passed, they climb back up the web and form a clump again.”