What to do about Spiders and Webs

Rita's Monthly Gardening Tips,  August 4, 2015

At this time of year spider webs appear to be at an all-time high. Concern begins to build that spiders are bigger or more numerous this year than ever before. It may be advantageous for the occasional pest control company to perpetuate this myth. Also, media articles and blogs may overemphasize the natural occurrence at this time of year as something bigger, scarier, or less natural to get the attention of readers. It doesn’t take much for most people’s discomfort with spiders to be over activated. A couple of weather station articles lure susceptible readers into thinking that spiders are bigger than ever and heading for your house right now. They attempt to connect this year’s weather with this year’s occurrence of spiders, but the weather is not a significant factor. It is better to get spider information from spider experts.

In reviewing recent literature, it was noticed that rthis same type of spider story is written in various states and countries at this time of year. This makes us realize that the supposed increase in spider size or number is not isolated to our particular town or this particular year or because of this year’s weather being significantly different from the average summer. Although busting spider myths is an uphill battle, Rod Crawford, curator of Arachnids at Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle, is doing an outstanding job of spider myth-busting. Crawford reassures readers that the reason spiders appear to be more numerous in the late summer is because at this point in their life cycle they are fully grown, and males are wandering around looking for a mate. This information is confirmed by Bug Guide, an online resource for information on insects, spiders, and related creatures. According to Bug Guide, orb weaver spiders, for example, appear in the spring but are not noticed until summer to fall.

Another very reliable source of information about spiders comes from UC Davis. The UC Integrated Pest Management site recommends not using pesticides to control spiders. Regular strong sprays of water from the garden hose is all that is needed to clean webs from plants. Vacuums or dusters can clear away webs from other objects. They remind us that spiders are a very important part of the ecosystem, eating a great quantity of mosquitoes and other pest insects. Spiders also make up a large part of the diet of many birds and reptiles.

Enjoy the links below for more information. Happy Gardening!

http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/index.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/QT/spiderscard.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7442.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/QT/commongardenspiderscard.html

http://bugguide.net/node/view/1972