Eight-legged friend

Just hanging...my greenhouse friend "Araneus diadematus"

Mid October 2018.

Weather: damp (clearly raining overnight).

Temp: distinctly chilly, barely into double figures.

A spider has taken up residence in the middle of the greenhouse. It’s been there for several days, now, so I know where to look to avoid getting it in my hair…again – a seriously unnerving experience for an arachnophobe like myself. But it’s doing a job, so I’m learning to live with it. And it’s not as bad as having spiders in the house, which I really can’t handle. Garden spiders (Araneus diadematus, to give them their scientific name), like my new friend in the greenhouse, don’t seem so sinister as the ugly black monsters that suddenly scuttle across the floor looking for mates in spring, or seeking shelter from the outdoors in autumn. And, unlike their sinister-looking hairy-legged cousins, garden spiders are almost beautiful, coloured various mottled shades of soft brown and all bearing their distinctive signature design of a creamy-white cross stamped on their abdomens. Best of all, these plump garden spiders have the decency to be picked-off by birds, and so sit enticingly in the middle of their ridiculously wide and intricate orb webs, encouraging any hungry blackbird, blue tit or wren to help themselves.

Rebuilding its web after a brush with my hair...a scary experience for both of us.

So, it’s taken a while, but I’ve finally grown used to them, inured through years of gardening, which is just as well as there seem to be more this year than ever before. And I’m even looking forward to the first frosts of winter, when the ageing webs will glow an ethereal white in the weak winter sun. As for my friend in the greenhouse, we’ll both be fine – so long as it stays out of my hair.

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