Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Spider identification

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Question
I live in IL, near Chicago. Around 8 PM my husband was outside in our back yard and saw a very large red spider in a web near the garage. It was at least the size of a quarter, if not larger, and was sort of a rusty red color. Its legs were evenly spaced. The web was very large, maybe 2 or 3 feet wide.Just curiousabout what kind of a spider it might be. I have never seen anything like it. Thanks!

Answer
Glennis:

You are describing some kind of orb weaver, family Araneidae.  My best guess is one of these two species:

http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2011/08/spider-sunday-cross-spider.html

or

http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2012/11/spider-sunday-hentzs-orbweaver.html

Both species can be variable in color and pattern, but both are very common in your area.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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