Garden of Weavin’: The Benefits of Garden Spiders
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The showy black and yellow bodies of Argiope aurantia are hard to miss once they make their appearance. More commonly known as the black and yellow garden spider or writing spider, they can be found throughout the state of NC and other portions of the United States. However, they are not the only spider that can be found wandering around your yard and garden during the summer and fall. There are many different species of spiders that live in the environments around us.
The spiders around you are a misunderstood group of animals that are actually beneficial. They eat pests that would otherwise be attacking your garden and yard like aphids, grasshoppers, caterpillars, thrips, and more. Because they aren’t picky about what types of insects they consume, they may eat bugs that are actually there to help pollinate your plants. Despite this, it is best to leave them alone as they eat far more nuisance insects than helpful ones. Spiders themselves act as a source of food for birds that are also likely to help get rid of pests too.
This group of spiders make themselves at home on lawns, around the bottoms of buildings, and short shrubs. They make thick, flat webs that are funnel shaped. Grass spiders hide in their funnels, waiting for prey to make contact with their webs. They come rushing out once they sense a meal. Their coloration can be described as a mix of brown and gray.
Large and hairy, these types of spiders can be found wandering around during the day or night. They like to chase after their prey and aren’t known to construct webs. However, they may still have a structure made of their silk that they reside in. Wolf spiders look like mini tarantulas with brown or gray bodies with white markings.
Crab spiders gain their other name, flower spiders, due to where they are often found. They can be found sitting in flowers with their giant forelegs. Their remaining
four hind legs are much smaller. They lie in wait for their prey to ambush them when they come flying in. This type of spider also doesn’t spin webs and is active during the day time.
As their name suggests, they are known for their ability to jump, incredibly more than 40 times their own body length. They don’t make webs and can be rather dull colored or iridescent. Jumping spiders instead stalk their prey and pounce on it. These spiders are typically about medium in size and are known to act a bit twitchy.
Well known as Daddy long legs, these arachnids aren’t actually spiders. They enjoy hanging out in groups so seeing several of them together is common. Harvestmen lack fangs, cannot bite, and are able to eat solid food. They only have two eyes, one body section instead of two like spiders, and are brown, gray, yellow, or red.
These active arachnids are sure to help keep your garden pest free. Let them assist you in your endeavors to grow crops by leaving them in peace. Refrain from squishing them and performing pesticides applications for spiders. You and your plants will certainly be thankful that you didn’t.
Zaria Reep is a Summer Intern from NC State for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.