- Author: Betsy Buxton
As a Master Gardener, I hear all sorts of complaints about spiders in the garden; how these arachnids are eating plants, and how they are destroying the garden. To each of these complaints, I offer the same answers.
- Garden spiders do NOT eat plants, flowers, or vegetable crops. On the contrary, they eat the insects which are causing those problems in their webs. They might even occasionally eat those pollinators which help give us the flowers and vegetables which we desire. Since spiders depend on their webs to snare the insects which they do eat, instead of running down their prey, sometimes a helpless butterfly or bee does get killed. But spiders capture many more flies, mosquitoes, and other pesky insects than the beneficial ones.
- The webs that spiders weave can be bothersome occasionally, especially when one walks in a web face first. The answer to that is to use your hand or garden tool to cut the web portion out of the way. If disturbed a few times, spiders will relocate to an area where they will not be bothered. Also, some spiders reweave their webs overnight so make sure that prey can be caught easily.
- Spiders are a fabulous way to teach children about garden life and to introduce those to “good and bad” bugs and to help them recognize the differences between insects and arachnid families. Just to make sure spot the good spiders and the not so good varieties, such as black and brown widow spiders. Spiders can range in size from the small “jumping” spider that pops out suddenly to guard its “turf” in flowers to the gigantic “wolf “spider whose legs can span a 4” X 4” post and carries her babies on her back after they hatch. A particular favorite of mine is the “golden orb” spider whose bodies are almost the size of a 50-cent piece and have intricate designs in their amber- colored, translucent bodies.
- Remember the main differences between insects and spiders: insects have 6 legs, a pair of antennae, and a 3-segmented body; spiders have 2 segments to the body, 8 legs, and no antennae.
Now go into the garden and see what you can find living out there!