Every night for the past two weeks, a large orb-weaver has spun an enormous web stretching from my house all the way over to the property line. I like to think of it as a banner advertising the arrival of autumn, but I usually think of that only after I’ve crashed through it for the umpteenth time.
I get some task on my mind and go charging around to the basement, and next thing you know I’m batting spider silk out of my eyes and grumbling about why the spider can’t learn to be more considerate. Which is really pretty ridiculous, considering my so-called superior intellect can’t seem to learn to look out for spider webs that show up in the same place, at the same time, every single day.
Fall is the active season for some of the larger species of garden spiders, which is why we see larger, more elaborate webs this time of year. Spiders are beneficial garden predators, helping keep insect infestations under control. Contrary to popular myths, most garden spiders are completely harmless and aren’t the least bit interested in humans, and if you can get over your Hollywood-inspired arachnophobia, many of them are quite beautiful.
This fall, make peace with the spiders in your yard. Sit outside one evening and watch an orb-weaver spin an architectural masterpiece. Stare down a funnel-weaver and see if you can watch it disappear (bet you can’t, they’re too fast). Look for the sparkling gossamer silk of baby spiders traveling on an autumn breeze. And if you must disturb a spider web, gently relocate the spider to a spot you can share and settle into a peaceful coexistence.
- Spider Myths (Burke Museum of Natural History)
- Spider Silk (BackyardNature.net)
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