Autumn – Season of Orb Spiders
Many of us will have plump 10-12mm female Garden Spiders (Araneus diedematus) hanging head-down in the centre of enormous orb webs in our gardens at this time of the year. This spider can be identified easily by its size (although the males are only half as big) and the white blotches arranged roughly in a cross on the abdomen. It is one of our largest spiders and entirely harmless.
As our house was being repainted we decided to put up a nest box while there were ladders about. The ideal place seemed to be under the protection of the eaves on the front of the house. The back wall is less protected from rain and is in the sun most of the day. Maybe it would be a good place for a bat box?
We decided on a sparrow terrace from the RSPB. After a bit of thought we screwed two wedge-shaped pieces of wood above the sloping roof of the box so that the top of the wedges was horizontal. We drilled a hole through each wedge about half way along. Then we drilled holes through the underside of the eaves about the same distance out from the wall (the painter did this from his ladder). From inside the roof I threaded thin nylon ropes down through the holes to the pavement. This was the only difficult part of the job – it was cramped, hot and dusty down in the corner of the loft. The ends of the ropes were threaded through the holes in the wedges and securely knotted. Then it was a simple matter to pull the nest box tightly up into the angle between wall and eaves and tie the ropes off to cleats screwed to the rafters.
In the photo you can see the wide ends of the two wedges that hold the nest box square to the eaves and the wall. I think it looks pretty good, and after the nesting season it will be easy to lower the box, clean it out and sterilise it with boiling water.