The Cross Spider gets its common name from the striking white cross pattern on its back (see picture). Also note the shoulder humps near the front of the abdomen. The color is highly variable, ranging from a pale tan to almost black, with examples like this one in striking orange and red. It is also distinctive by its very round abdomen and large size. The female is 6.5 to 20mm, and the male 5.5 to 13mm.
Orb Weavers are known for the large, flat, round web they spin. The basic web form consists of numerous spokes radiating from a central hub. On this base, the spider spins a spiral of viscous silk that ensnares prey that touches it. The spider, waiting either at the center hub or at the periphery, senses vibrations caused by prey caught in the web. Prey is bitten and brought back to either the center or the side of the web where it is eaten. The web is generally maintained for a long time, and repairs are made frequently. Araneus males can only be found for brief periods.