How the cross spider got its name

Walking down the garden path to get your bike and into the web of a cross spider. Does this sound familiar? These spiders weave their  webs across garden paths in late summer and autumn. They spend their days making and repairing their vulnerable webs. Cross spiders are master weavers. And that already proved very useful in times long gone. Read about it in this Christian legend:

Looking out from its web spun between two bushes the spider could not believe its eyes. It is now some two thousand years ago that it saw how heartless soldiers were throwing dice to see who was to get the convict’s loin cloth. Hung on a cross, the man in question was in his death throes. Trickles of blood ran from the crown of thorns he was wearing down his face. He was plagued by the masses of flies which took advantage of his clotted blood. Jesus was obviously troubled by the swarming insects. The spider felt sorry for him and crept out of her web, went to the cross and climbed up it to his face. She carefully spun her web, thread by thread, around his entire head. She spun the threads with such precision that his face seemed to have a grey sheen. When the spider was finished, she quietly made her way back down the cross. The sun shone as she moved towards her own web. It turned round and looked up. She saw how angry the flies were getting now  they could no longer reach the blood through her web. It seemed for an instant as if Jesus smiled at her in gratitude. That very same moment a shadow from the cross fell exactly across the spider’s back. It was as if someone had whispered in her ear: “Thank you, oh spider, for your kindness.”
Feeling at peace with herself and satisfied by her work, the spider continued on her way back to her web. On arrival she saw that the cross on her back had not disappeared and she realized she must have woven a web for a special person.
God’s token of gratitude for the spider’s compassion was passed down to all her offspring. To this day they still carry a cross on their back, which is why they are called cross spiders.


A cross spin is one of the most well-known European spiders because they often weave their webs across garden paths. The spiders weaves their web between taller plants across the flight paths of insects. Garden paths are simply ideal for this. The web is easily damaged by insects flying into it and also because the threads dry out quickly. The smaller male spiders are in mortal danger when trying to impregnate a female in its web. They are quite often mistaken for a tasty snack. The small yellow spiders which hatch out of the tiny eggs climb up as high as possible in the spring. A thread flows out of their rear end and they let themselves drift down in the wind. On landing they quickly begin to weave a small web which most people do not notice. In the late summer and autumn we do, however, see the large webs of the two-year-old adult female cross spiders which are much larger than their mate. Cross spiders catch not only flies and mosquitoes in their webs, but also wasps, bees and butterflies. The victims are quickly wrapped into little packages, paralyzed by a poisonous bight and dragged to a quiet spot where the spider can take its time to enjoy eating its prey. In turn, cross spiders are themselves a tasty snack for birds.   

Post Author
Els Baars