The Orb Web (or Orb Weaver) Spider, also known as the European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), diadem spider, or cross spider, is a very common and well-known orb-weaver spider. Araneus diadematus is found throughout the Pacific Northwest and also lives in other parts of North America, in a range extending from New England and the Southeast to California and the Northwestern United States and adjacent parts of Canada, as well as western Europe.
Individual spiders’ colouring can range from extremely light yellow to very dark grey, but all European garden spiders have mottled markings across the back with five or more large white dots forming a cross. The white dots result from cells that are filled with guanine, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
The third pair of legs of garden spiders are specialized for assisting in the spinning of orb webs. These spiders also use them to move around on their web without getting stuck. These legs are useful only in the web; while on the ground, these legs are of little value.
Since this tends to be a passive animal, it is difficult to provoke to bite – but if it does, the bite is just slightly unpleasant and completely harmless to humans.
The webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web, as in this photo, waiting for prey to get entangled in the web. The prey is then quickly captured and wrapped in silk before being eaten. Orb Spiders are said to eat their webs each night along with many of the small insects stuck to it. They have been observed doing this within a couple of minutes. A new web is then spun in the morning.
The much smaller male will approach the female cautiously in order to mate. If not careful, he could end up being eaten by her.
Garden spiders have been known to stridulate (make noise by rubbing body parts together) when threatened. (Factoid and Orb Web Spider information Source: wikipedia)