[I posted this earlier, and then made a second pot which seems to have somehow displaced it, so I'm posting it again].
I have recently discovered a number of unusual spiders in my back yard. They look a lot like false widows (I think some are Steatoda nobilis and some are S. grossa), but I'm not sure their webs fit the usual description of "a three-dimensional tangle of threads".
Their webs all consist of a roughly horizontal layer, surrounded above and below by a "scaffold" of single threads. The spiders themselves all live in web-lined cracks in the wall or fence, to which the main web is attached. (This seems to better fit the descriptions I've seen for the black lace weaver, but the spiders don't look much like them).
During the day, the spiders stay in their holes (but will cautiously come out to feed if something lands in their web - I've been giving them caterpillers and sawfly lavae that were eating my vegetables). At night they tend to sit in the middle of the web.
The spiders themselves are quite large, with a large, bulbous abdomen, about the size of a large pea, or bigger.
I have some photos taken with my phone, but they are not good quality.
Spider no. 1. Lives in a crack in the wall, quite high up. From the pattern on its abdomen, I'm guessing it is S. nobilis. Here it is with a caterpillar I gave it. I think I saw a similar spider with a smaller, narrower abdomen in the same hole a few days after thsi photo was taken, and then a dead spider in the web a few days after that. I haven't seen either since then, and the web is not being maintained. I'm guessing one killed the other (or they both did).
Spider no. 2. Lives in the Ivy about 1.5m up the wall. Similar markings to spider no.1:
Spider no.3. Also lives in the ivy on the wall, but lower down than spider no. 2. Dark abdomen, with two dimples and a pale front. I'm guessing S. grossa or S. bipunctata. 5p coin for scale (it looked a lot larger before I caught it!).
Spider no.4. Similar pattern to 1 & 2, but lives much closer to the ground than most of the similar spiders in my garden. Picture isnn't very good, and the spider is quite hard to make out. The angle and perspective make it look as if it is crawling along the edge of teh flowerpot (which would make it huge!), but it is actally on its web, about 40cm closer to teh camera.
Message was edited by: Iapetus Initial thread disappeared for some reason. I reposted it, copying and pasting from another file, but half of that was missing, so I've re-added the rest manually.