The cellar spider, also known as the skull spider due to its cephalothorax looking like a human skull, is a spider of the family Pholcidae. Females have a body length of about 9 mm; males are slightly smaller. Its legs are about 5 or 6 times the length of its body (reaching up to 7 cm of leg span in females). Its habit of living on the ceilings of rooms, caves, garages or cellars gives rise to one of its common names. They are considered beneficial in some parts of the world because they kill and eat other spiders, including species that can be considered a problem to humans such as hobo and redback spiders.
A male (left) and female Garden Orb Spider mating time its a risky for him as if she is not receptive she will eat him and even if she is she may eat him after they have mated. I watched them for ages as he tried to get close but not to close almost tickling her with his legs then now and again he would try and put his abdomen on to hers. you can see her rear legs have the web coming out of her spinneret if he is doomed she will entangle him.
Size: Females up to 13mm, males up to 8mm
Distribution: Found throughout the UK.
Months seen: June to October
Habitat: Found in hedgerows, woodlands and gardens
Food: Mostly flying insects which are caught in orb webs
Special features: Garden spiders are sometimes called Cross spiders on account of the white ‘+’ cross-shaped mark on the abdomen. They’re most frequently seen in September and October, when they reach adult size.
The females are frequently found upside-down in the centre of their circular webs, which they construct about a metre off the ground, in trees and hedges.
The colouration of the abdomen is variable. It can be anything from dark chocolate brown, through bright orange, to yellow. Usually at least five of the dots making up the cross marking are visible to some extent.
Araneus quadratus, four spot orb weaver