Never more than 10 feet away

Spiderweb in dewYou’ve probably heard or read at some point that, “you’re never more than 10 feet away from a spider.” Sometimes it’s 6 feet, sometimes 3. According to the American Museum of Natural History, this estimate is low:

An acre of English meadow in late summer has been estimated to contain more than 2 million spiders, and it’s safe to assume that wetlands and undisturbed forest contain significantly more.

That’s about 46 spiders per square foot!

I tend to notice spiders more during the fall, especially when dew outlines the webs of  orb spiders hanging over our walkway and funnel spider webs sprinkled over the grass. My guess is that this is a common phenomenon: the arachnids we call “daddy longlegs” are called “harvestmen” in other parts of the world, presumably because they show up during harvest.(Yes, they are not true spiders, but a related order called Opiliones, and no, they are not the most venomous animal in the world; in fact they do not have venom glands.)

Daddy longlegs or harvestman

"Daddy longlegs" or "harvestman" on leaf

Spiders are considered beneficial species in the garden because they prey on insects that may damage plants. These ubiquitous predators need no special invitation to hunt; they will congregate wherever there are insects to eat. Keep in mind that any pesticide use may affect spiders as well as the targeted pests.

Do you have photos of spiders or other critters in your garden? We’d love to have you share them on the Garden Plot facebook page! Here is a picture I took recently of a black and yellow garden spider among the peas on my trellis. Note the heavily reinforced zigzag portion of the web. Why do they make that?

Garden spider

Black and yellow garden spider

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