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[All pictures of garden wildlife on this page are thumbnails. Click on any thumbnail for a large format to be displayed.]

Common Orb Weaver (Metellina segmentata / Meta segmentata)

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Meta segmentata looks like the European Garden Spider, but has a different drawing on the back. However, there is another way to tell the species apart and that's by looking at the web. The central part of the web is open and often quite sloppy in Meta segmentata, while the Garden Spider continues weaving till the centre in nice, ever smaller circles.

Female Meta segmentata showing the web, of which the central part is open

The males of Meta segmentata often gather in small groups close to the web of a female. Then they wait for prey to get entangled in the females web. All males try to reach the prey and the one that does immediately starts to roll they prey in silk, like a package. Then it tries to offer the package to the female. If she's interested she will start to consume the prey, while the male mates with her. Afterwards he often tries to pilfer the prey from her, using it on another female.

Males of Meta segmentata have much longer legs than the females.

Like many other spiders the animals are a bit variable: the colours are not always the same and the markings on the abdomen also vary slightly from individual to individual. This is makes identifying spiders a difficult task, especially in the field or en route. It is very important to look at other particulars too. For instance whether there is a web or not and the way it is build. Is the animal a runner or does it prefer to sit still. These facts should then be combined and often lead to the right genus or species.

Even the males of Meta segmentata are always slightly different in colour and markings.

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