Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Garden and Two Spiders

A couple of things about spiders ....

I'm an arachnophobe. It took decades for me to be able to be around them whilst remaining somewhat rational. I was even afraid of killing them. I'm generally averse to killing things just because I don't like them or because I'm afraid of them, but I was also so physically revolted and terrified of them that their deaths and dead bodies were just as bad as the living things.

Years later, through education and working on being around them and observing, I'm now able to garden with them. It's not easy. They have to be 'my' spiders, the spiders that live outside in my garden and who generally leave me alone and if they happened to hitch a ride on me by accident, they're as eager to get away from me as I am to have them off of me.

I want to mention a couple in particular today.

The first is the so-called common garden spider, which I've found to be somewhat uncommon in my area.

I love these spiders. They're huge, which makes them somewhat easy to spot (so I can keep my distance) and they tend to make their webs in or around very tall grass, at least in my garden, so they've never once (so far) stretched their webs across one of my paths and nailed me in the face.

They're also artists. They weave something down the middle of their orb web to look like something an insect might want to land on, or that at least blends in a bit with the wheat and other grasses they prefer.

The other kind, although I garden with them side-by-side all the time (not by choice, they're extremely profuse) I'm not so fond of. They lurk on pale flowers and kill bees. Now, if it was a bee here and a bee there, I wouldn't mind so much. But these are first-rate bee killers, and they don't seem to have an off switch. I've seen one kill a bee when it had several dead ones already, and I can't imagine a spider that size needing that much food. But, what do I know? Maybe they lay a single egg on each one or something like that. I call them white crab spiders, but I'm not sure what they're really called. This time of year most of the ones I found were tiny. In spring, when I have my first flush of rose blossoms, they're all over the white roses, and the cream and apricot ones, and they also lurk near the pale pollen on my giant tree peonies.

I won't go on an active campaign to destroy them all, but I also don't care for them and given half of an excuse to mush one, I will. I also snip flowers that are the least bit faded that have them on them and put them in the compost. I'm sure that doesn't do much to them, but maybe, on their way to find a new pale flower, they'll be eaten by the heaps of jumping spiders and other hunting-style spiders that roam through the grass.

Happy gardening!