Spiders Are Good for Your Home & Garden

It's not just your imagination, certain spiders and webs are bigger this time of year and Metro Natural Gardening Specialist Carl Grimm told us why that's a good thing.

 
Summer is a garden spiders’ season of adulthood
Orb weaver “garden” spiders are more noticeable this time of year because they have been eating thousands of insects all spring and summer. Now they are big enough to be visible and to shoot their webbing longer distances. But not for long. As any kid who’s read Charlotte’s Web will tell you, after laying her eggs, the spider dies. So after fall, you won’t notice the garden spiders much until next year.
 
Don’t like to walk through webs? Relocate them!
Waving a stick in front of you as you walk will keep spider webs out of your hair, but some spiders can rebuild their webs in less than an hour. For a more lasting effect, hold a container below the spider and disturb the web – the spider should drop right in. Then relocate it to an area you won’t often walk. In the house you can leave spiders there to fight pests for you or if you feel must remove them, use a vacuum or a glass and stiff piece of paper. Whatever you do, don’t use pesticides indoors or out as they’ll put you, your children, and your pets at risk. Pesticides don’t work well anyway since few are formulated for spiders and those that are essentially need to be sprayed directly onto the spider.

 
Spiders are safer than pesticides
Many pesticides are linked to serious human and pet health problems such as cancer, asthma, neurological disorders and birth defects. Pesticides are also among the top ten causes of fatal accidental poisonings of children. Pesticide exposures are also more common than bites according to U.S. poison center data. Pesticides generated 21,000 more calls than bites (1.3 times as many) in 2009. Of the reported bites, only a tiny fraction were likely to have been from spiders.
 
The only two spiders in our region that pose potential danger to humans are black widows and hobo spiders. But don’t worry! Black widows are extremely rare, and according to local scientists, current evidence does not support the claims of harm from hobo spiders. In case you were wondering, brown recluse spiders do not live west of the Rockies. Regardless, if you want to be extra cautious, wear gloves and long sleeves when moving an old woodpile in summer or cleaning out a crawl space.
 
The bottom line is that spiders are extremely unlikely to bite you, and even if they did, chances are you’d notice it less than a flea.
 
Spiders kill and eat pests
Spiders eat mosquitoes, yellow jackets, ants, flies and aphids. Thank goodness! In Great Britain, it has been estimated that spiders eat more than the total weight of the human population (circa 1941) in insects each year! Protect spiders and you’ll have fewer bugs bugging you in the garden.
 
Want more information? Get your free copy of the “Natural gardening” and “Spiders…” publications by calling Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000.
 
For local spider identification, visit: http://web.pdx.edu/~smasta/MastaSpiders.html.
For spider myths and truths, visit:www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth.
For more information on natural gardening, visit www.oregonmetro.gov/garden.

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