Garden Spider

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Species


Garden spiders belong to the the order Araneae and the family Araneidae. There are over a hundred different species of spiders in Washington, with over 3,500 species in North America alone. Spiders found in your garden are largely orb weavers, feeding on prey that ends up stuck in their web.

Identification


Spiders are not insects. Spiders have a two-part body with a head, and large round or tapered abdomen, and eight legs. Colors and patterns on the body may vary.


Photo Courtesy of Washington State University Extension

Life Cycle


At the end of the summer females produce eggs, laying up to 100 at a time, that they wrap in a silken egg sac. The eggs overwinter either in soil and organic matter or attached to the mother's web or a plant. Baby spiders hatch from the sacs in the spring and look like small adults, shedding their skin up to 12 times as they grow and mature. Most garden spiders only live for one year.

Prey


Spiders eat a wide variety of insects, other spiders, and arthropods.

It is important to note that garden spiders are generalist predators and therefore will prey on both pests as well as other beneficial insects.

Function


Because garden spiders are orb weavers, they are more likely to eat adult flying insects that land in their webs. Although, certain garden spiders such as the wolf and lynx spider, actively seek out and hunt their prey. Spiders kill more insects than all other predators combined and consume a multitude of different pest species year round.

Commercial Availability


Spiders are not available commercially.

Cultivation Techniques


It is likely that you already have an appropriate number of spiders in your yard or garden. Spiders can be encouraged by covering bare dirt with mulch, creating a "wild" area in your yard, planting dense shrubs and coniferous trees, and creating and/or maintaining a water source such as a pond. By leaving decaying plant stalks and not tilling the soil you can provide overwintering habitat.

References


Frahm, Annette, Brendan Jordan and Andrea Imler. A Photo Guide to Beneficial Insects. King County, 2003.

Flint, Mary Louise, and Steve H. Dreistadt. Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. Berkeley: UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of California Press, 1998.

Newton, Blake. Kentucky Critter Files. "Orb-Weaver Spiders." 2006. University of Kentucky Department of Entomology. 22 Sept 2008. <http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/spiders/orbweavers/orb.htm>

Rayor, Linda. "Common Garden Spiders." 2008. Colorado State University Extension. 10 Nov 2008
<http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/4DMG/Pests/spiders.htm>.

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