Note the zig-zag pattern in the web's center in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Note the zig-zag pattern in the web’s center (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

They’re not exactly warm and fuzzy (actually some are sort of fuzzy), but spiders are really neat and beneficial creatures if you can overlook their scary appearance.  Although I keep my home relatively clean, if you look up you may spot a spider or two hanging out on the ceiling waiting for something to eat.  And outside, the doors are adorned with multiple webs full of delicacies caught in their sticky snares.

A Garden Spider's massive web in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A Garden Spider’s massive web (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In both garden and yard, I’m always thrilled and intrigued to see the variety of webs and lines carefully wound around leaves and branches.  The work involved for one tiny 1/4 inch arachnid to reach from one limb to another seems daunting and mysterious at the same time.  How do these little Tarzans (and Janes) do it?  Especially when you consider that often the web needs to be respun daily, after a storm or intruder destroys it.  It’s exhausting just thinking about it . . .

Argiope aurantia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Argiope aurantia waiting for breakfast (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

In Connecticut we have quite a variety of spiders inside and out.  Here’s a little info on the most common arachnids of our area: (Note: Sizes are for body only, with leg span some spiders are much larger in diameter!)

We’ve all seen the Jumping Spider, Phidippus andux, a tiny 1/4″ black and white hairy, bug eyed critter that jumps rather than scurrying along like traditional arachnids.  The Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia, is a larger 1″ yellow spider with what looks like a black skull pattern on its back.  Usually found in the garden, its web has a centered zigzag pattern and argiope hangs out front and center waiting for lunch.  Orb Weavers, Neoscona crucifera, are also larger 1″ reddish brown spiders that create round (hence the name) webs to capture prey.  Running Spiders, Trachelas sp., are reddish brown house dwellers than range from 1/2″ to 1″ and don’t make a web, instead they “run” after their prey.  The highly feared Northern Black Widow, Latrodectus variolus, is the only venomous spider in Connecticut.  The female is the dangerous one, marked with a red hourglass on her abdomen, if bitten her venom is 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake.  Luckily, Black Widows are timid and it’s rare to come into contact with one.

Tiny spider inside blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Tiny spider inside geranium blossom (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A very prehistoric looking spiny 1/8″ Micrathena Spider, Micranthena gracilis, has a series of ten pointed spikes on its black back and might be missed in the garden as its web is less than 3″ in diameter.  Trangulated Cobweb Spider, Steatoda triangulosa, is a 1/4″ brown house spider that earns its keep feeding on ants and ticks. The huge, hairy, greyish-brown Wolf Spider, Lycosidae sp., has a body size up to 2″, and can easily be found outdoors in leaves or wood piles as well as inside your basement!  I’ll never forget the first time I saw one as it ran across my lap while I was watching television.  Ultimately, it came to live in our basement and we named it “Harry.”  Another indoor friend, American House Spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum, has a larger 1/4″ brown body with short legs and builds its tangled webs in secluded areas inside walls, attics or basements.  Find out more about how spiders create their webs by reading my post:  Mysterious Webs

Ornamental Spider in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Ornamental Spider (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Even if you’re afraid of spiders, I hope you’ll reconsider trying to banish them from your home and gardens, and instead allow them a few spots to make a web and hang out.  Who knows, you may even meet another “Charlotte”. . . ♥

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A Garden for All