How to Identify a Garden Spider

The common garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is an orb-weaver, which means it spins its web in a spiraling circle. They are non-venomous, beneficial to the local ecosystem, and can be found just about everywhere in North America and Europe. They can resemble other spiders to an untrained eye, so be careful when trying to identify one, especially in places where venomous spiders are abundant.

EditObserving the Spider Directly
Look for an egg-shaped black abdomen with yellow patches. The abdomen of a garden spider is egg-shaped and slightly shiny, which helps when trying to find them in direct sunlight. A female abdomen will be black with patches of bright yellow, whereas males have patches of pale yellow coloration.[1]

Note if the front body section of the spider has short, silvery hairs. Most spiders have short hairs on their legs, but the garden spider has silvery-grey hairs on both its cephalothorax (the front section of its body) and its legs. Check for these with a magnifying glass (or camera with a zoom function), but be careful not to concentrate the sun’s rays on the spider and burn it.[2]

Check the legs for yellow or red coloring that turns black at the end. Garden spiders have legs that are distinctly separated into 2 colors — the part closest to the body is yellow or reddish-orange while the tip of the leg becomes black. The colors do not blend and change abruptly near the first bend in its leg.[3]
In some spiders, the colors band around each leg rather than separate into 2 distinct colors. This is relatively uncommon but is something that should be taken into account when you look at its leg coloration.

Notice if it has 3 claws at the end of each leg. Most spiders have 2 claws at the end of each leg, but because the garden spider is an orb-weaver, it needs an extra claw to handle its silk while making its web.[4]

Figure out whether it is a female or male spider by its size. Unlike humans, the female garden spider is much larger than the male garden spider, sometimes up to 4 times its size.[5] Female garden spiders are anywhere from to long, while males can be anywhere from to long.[6]
Another way to determine the spider’s sex is to observe it on the web. Females will hang head-down from the center of the web with their legs kept together, so they appear to have 4 legs rather than 8.

The male garden spider may not display its colors as much as the female spider, which makes its colors appear much more muted and pale.[7]

EditRecognizing a Garden Spider Habitat
Search for spiders in the warmer parts of the year, from spring to fall. The garden spider is most active from June to November, after which it goes dormant until the spring.[8] In places with a particularly cold winter, the spider may go dormant earlier.
The garden spider loves the sun and warmth, which is why it is much easier to find in warm months than in winter and the beginning of spring. You can certainly still find them at other times of the year, but they will be harder to spot and may be hidden from sight entirely.

Look for webs about knee-high off the ground in sunny but hidden areas. Garden spiders like to build their webs a little bit off of the ground in an area without wind or other factors that could destroy their web.[9]
Don’t limit your search to just your garden. You can often find their webs built on trellises and on fences around the house, and they are abundant in natural areas too.

Garden spiders often like to build their webs in areas of tall grass and foliage, as the grass provides a natural buffer and hiding spot.

Identify its circular, orb-like web with a zig-zag pattern. Garden spiders spin their webs in large, circular spirals often with a thick strand of silk that resembles a zig-zag going directly through the middle.[10] This is an indication that you have a garden spider in your yard, but there are other types of spiders that make their webs in a similar fashion. If you have webs that look very different from this in your garden, it is unlikely they were made by the common garden spider.
The zig-zag strand of silk may not always be present. The spiral pattern will indicate that the web belongs to a garden spider, whereas the strand of silk will confirm this, if it is there.

Notice their brown, thin egg sacs attached to one side of the web. The female will lay eggs on the web and keep them close to her, to prevent ants from getting to her spawn.[11] These round egg sacs can be up to wide and contain many hundreds of smaller spider eggs. Rarely, if ever, will you find these eggs unattached to a web.

EditIdentifying Other Spiders in your Garden
Recognize a cross orb-weaver by its pyramid-shaped abdomen with a white cross. The cross orb-weaver is sometimes mistaken for a garden spider as it has a similar coloring, but the shape of the cross orb-weaver’s abdomen, as well as the white stripe coloration on its body, differentiates it. Its web is circular and spiraling, much like the garden spider’s web.[12]

Identify a grass spider by its funnel-like web and brown striped legs. A grass spider is a common spider that makes its web in a funnel shape.[13] Their webs are typically low to the ground, which can indicate that it belongs to a grass spider and not a garden spider. The grass spider has black and white spots on its abdomen and brown-striped legs. Their bites are slightly venomous but do not cause any damage to people.

Look for a long, narrow brown body and pale long legs in the dome spider. The dome spider’s legs are noticeably longer than its body. Their body is a deep dark brown, whereas their legs are a pale tan color. Its web is shaped like a dome, and the dome spider’s body has no bright coloring, unlike the garden spider.

Identify a cobweb spider by its white body and legs and its large abdomen. The cobweb spider can typically be found climbing on flowers and bushes and in tangled messes of cobweb.[14] Sometimes, they will have red or black markings on their body, but this is uncommon.[15] The cobweb spider’s web is erratic and patternless and is easily destroyed by the wind, which is why they are usually found in corners and out of the elements. Black widow spiders are one notable example of a venomous cobweb spider, but most are not venomous.

Note the camouflage coloration and reflective eyes of the wolf spider. The wolf spider is a master of disguise and can be hard to spot without a flashlight as they blend into their surroundings extremely well. You can typically find them in open areas, and using a flashlight at night can help to find their reflective eyes looking back at you — spooky![16] Its web is small and funnel-shaped, and is usually hidden away rather than out in the open. Its bite is mildly venomous, but is not lethal.

The garden spider’s web can be as large as across, and although this can be a nuisance when you are working in your garden, keep in mind that the garden spider is very beneficial to the ecosystem. If you constantly destroy their webs, they will leave.

The garden spider is not venomous and it is not aggressive. A bite from a garden spider is extremely rare, but if you are bitten, you will not feel too much pain. Let the bite heal on its own, but use ice to numb the area if there is any minor swelling.

EditThings You’ll Need
Magnifying glass or camera with a zoom function

EditRelated wikiHows
Identify a Baboon Spider

Identify a Brown Widow Spider

Identify a Redback Spider

Care for a Garden Spider

EditSources and Citations
EditQuick Summary
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Today in History for 6th February 2019

Historical Events

1937 – K Elizabeth Ohi becomes 1st Japanese-US female lawyer
1956 – Chicago’s Daily Defender, begins publishing
1958 – Ted Williams signs with Red Sox for $135,000, making him highest paid
1961 – KOAP TV channel 10 in Portland, OR (PBS) begins broadcasting
1964 – “Rugantino” opens at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC for 28 performances
1981 – “Brady Brides” debuts on NBC TV

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1608 – Antonio Vieira, Portuguese diplomat and preacher, born in Lisbon, Portugal (d. 1697)
1905 – Władysław Gomułka, Polish communist politician, born in Krosno, Poland (d. 1982)
1924 – Billy Wright, English football player, born in Ironbridge, United Kingdom (d. 1994)
1970 – Per Frandsen, Danish footballer, born in Copenhagen, Denmark
1975 – Leo Insam, Italian ice hockey defenseman (Team Italy 1998), born in Bolzano, Italy
1976 – Tanja Frieden, Swiss snowboarder, born in Bern, Switzerland

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1812 – Carlo Goldoni, writer, dies at 104
1963 – Mohammed ibn al-Chattabi Abd el-Krim, Morocco opposition leader, dies
1986 – Minoru Yamasaki, American architect (b. 1912)
1992 – Wade Preston, actor (Man Called Sledge), dies at 62
1998 – Haroun Tazieff, French vulcanologist and geologist (b. 1914)
2008 – Dieter Noll, German writer (Die Abenteuer des Werner Holt), dies at 80

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Clean Cheese Cloth

Cheesecloth was once only used to separate curds from whey in cheesemaking. Today, you can use it to make nut milk, prepare greek yogurt, or extract ginger juice, too. With all its various applications, it can be nice to save and reuse cheesecloth instead of buying new sheets every time. If the label on your cheesecloth says one-time use only, you may be able to wash it by hand once or twice, but it will start to break down very soon. If you invest in high-quality cheesecloth, however, you can hand wash it or launder it in the washing machine with your kitchen towels and reuse it nearly indefinitely.

EditWashing by Hand
Rinse your cheesecloth in hot water immediately after use. Try to remove as many bits of food as you can. The faster you get to rinsing the cheesecloth, the easier it will be to get food and stains out of it. If you don’t have time to rinse it thoroughly right away, put it in a bowl of hot water to soak until you can wash it.[1]

Soak the cheesecloth in a baking soda solution to remove tough debris. If your cheesecloth has bits of food or stains that are difficult to get out with just hot water, add baking soda to a hot water soak. Use ½ cup (90 g) baking soda per 1 gallon (3.75 L) of water. Leave the cheesecloth in the solution for 10-30 minutes, depending on how severe the stains are. Rinse the cheesecloth thoroughly after you soak it.[2]

Add white vinegar or lemon juice to the soak water to fade stains and debris. If you have extra stubborn debris or stains on the cheesecloth, add a stain fighting ingredient to your baking soda soak solution. Simply add of white vinegar or lemon juice per 1 gallon (3.75 L) of hot water along with the baking soda before you soak the cheesecloth.[3]
You can also spot-treat a stain by dipping a toothbrush into the vinegar or lemon juice and rubbing it against the stain before you soak it.

Be sure to rinse the cheesecloth very thoroughly after to wash out all the vinegar and lemon juice. They can attract fruit flies if not completely rinsed out of the cheesecloth.

Boil the cheesecloth for 5 minutes for extra sterilization. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place your cheesecloth inside and let it boil for at least 5 minutes. This will kill any lingering bacteria that may be left in the cheesecloth.[4]
It’s a good idea to boil the cheesecloth every time after you use it, whether you’ve just rinsed it or if you’ve soaked it to get rid of stubborn debris.

EditLaundering in the Washing Machine
Rinse the cheesecloth before you launder it to get rid of food debris. Run the cheesecloth under hot water immediately after you use it so the food stains don’t set into the cloth. Hang it to dry until you are ready to put it in the washing machine.
It’s best not to put wet cheesecloth pieces in the laundry basket because it can encourage mold growth.

Wash high-quality cheesecloth in the washing machine. If you have a cheesecloth that’s designed for reuse and made from a high-quality knit material (like cotton), you can wash it with other kitchen cloths. Use a detergent meant for delicate fabrics. It should be free of dyes or perfumes, which could damage the cheesecloth or leach out into your food. Use warm or hot water in the wash and a cold water rinse with bleach.[5]
Avoid using a fabric softener when cleaning your cheesecloth. The extra fragrance and softening agents will leave a coating on your cheesecloth and can leach into your food the next time you use it.[6]
Cheesecloth that’s labeled single-use cannot be washed in the washing machine. You may be able to hand wash it and reuse once or twice, but it’s better to buy cheesecloth meant for reuse.

Launder muslin with other towels in the washing machine. If you use muslin as an extra-sturdy cheesecloth alternative, you can easily wash it in your washing machine. Add it in the same load with your kitchen or bath towels. Check the label on your detergent to make sure it doesn’t contain dyes or fragrances that could contaminate your food the next time you use the muslin.
Avoid using fabric softener for your muslin, as it could cause buildup on the cloth that can leach into your food.

The muslin will shrink after you wash it the first time.[7]
Pick a lightweight unbleached muslin as an easy to clean cheesecloth alternative. Unbleached muslin will have a natural cream color.[8]
Find muslin at your local fabric store. Tell them you are looking for muslin to use as cheesecloth for straining or squeezing.

EditDrying and Storing
Dry the cheesecloth in the dryer or outside in the sun. After you’ve washed your cheesecloth by hand or in the washing machine, put it through a hot cycle in the dryer. You can also dry it outside in the sun if it’s hot outside and it can dry quickly. Hang it on a clothesline or drape it over a clean chair in direct sunlight.[9]

Fold and store the cheesecloth in a plastic bag. When the cheesecloth is completely dry, fold it 2 or 3 times until it forms a small square or rectangle. Store it in a cool, dry place in an airtight plastic bag until you are ready to use it again.

Reuse sterilized cheesecloth even if it’s stained. It’s natural that cheesecloth will get stained sooner or later. If the stain doesn’t wash out in the laundry, it won’t leach out into your food, either. Be sure to sterilize the cheesecloth by boiling it after you hand wash it or launder it in the washing machine. Dry the cheesecloth before you store it.
If the stains really bother you, add bleach to your soak water the next time you wash the cheesecloth. Use bleach per 1 gallon (1.75 L) water.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditWashing by Hand
Baking soda

White vinegar or lemon juice


Hot water

EditLaundering in the Washing Machine
Gentle detergent


EditDrying and Storing
Plastic bag


EditSources and Citations
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