Autumn Spider Webs

By: Julie Day

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.

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2 Comments on “Autumn Spider Webs”

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  • Steve Says:
    September 24th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I was walking a 7 1/2 mile trail in the Natural Bridge area of Kentucky in late Summer. There are no exits from this trail; start and you have to finish or turn back. So, days go by with no hikers.
    After the first quarter-mile, I took to holding my walking stick/cane up in front of my face to intercept the webs built across the trail. Most were Jewel spiders, harmless beauties that build compact webs on long anchor lines. Partly, the webs tickled on my face, but it was also to protect the spiders. I walked off carrying more than one panicked little girl on my shirt or clinging to my glasses, her home destroyed.
    In over 40 years of regular interaction with spiders, I’ve been bitten four times. I know because I saw the bites that I couldn’t feel. I had no ill effects. Two were Crab spiders, who tend to be, well, crabby.
    I’ve been teaching my 2 yo granddaughter not to fear these animals. She currently has “her” spider-an Argiope aurantia or black and yellow garden spider on a bush at the back of our farm house. I hope she stays fearless and I think she will. Her mother has no fear of these harmless friends.



  • j roundtree Says:
    September 5th, 2016 at 7:58 am

    I am so fascinated with this, I do not want to disturb them. I have gardens around my home…feed birds and other animals, some mammals. Any protection , err disturbance for these species is only avoided not knocking down their artistry; oh! and don’t walk into one.

    JdR


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Autumn Spider Webs