Do Spiders Spin More Webs in October or Do We Just Notice Them More?

webThat’s the question in the Market this week. Spider webs have always been part of Halloween spookiness, so I wanted to know if we see more spider webs in October because there are more webs.

The answer is, actually, yes. Spiders are around all summer, eating other insects we consider pests, enjoying sunshine and warmth, and the smell of dirt and I don’t know, maybe strawberries. (Spiders smell with sensitive hairs on their legs). So while the numbers of spiders don’t increase in October, they take advantage of glorious days in October by spinning more webs to gather up extra food for their hatchlings. Babies hatch out after mama dies.  That part of Charlotte’s Web always made me sad. (I’m reading that book to Juniper these days–she’s loving it as much as I am.)

I went hunting up Spider Facts and these are some things I learned and some things I already knew that you surely want to know, too:

aracweb1. Spiders are NOT aggressive. They do not chase people, whom they cannot eat, and whom they are pretty sure can squash them in a contest. When you threaten them (e.g. your hand plants down on one), they will bite you if they can. You leave them alone, they will leave you alone.  Nearly every single spider you encounter is totally harmless. Their mouths are built for eating things like aphids, flies, fleas and flea beetles and cucumber beetles (Yea Spiders!). Imagine trying to bite into a wall–that’s what a spider confronts when it lands on your skin. All spiders have fangs (and scorpions have stingers), but the fangs of most spiders are incapable of penetrating your skin. Fleas, mosquitos–they’ll sting and bite you with utter delight, eating your flesh and drinking your blood.  (How’s that for Halloween spookiness?) Not so, the spider.

2. Lots and lots of kinds of spiders live in the world. Charlotte, who took up residence in a doorway in the potting shed this fall, is an Araneus diadmatus spider. She spins a web that gets accidentally knocked down multiple times a week.  She skadaddles out of the way when we’re around and then gets back to web-building when we’re gone. She would be more useful to us in the garden, though I have noticed the fly population is much less in the market this fall… She’d spin a web like the one on the right, if she were outside.

3 . Different spiders spin different webs reflecting different strategies for catching prey. The Grass Spider spins them–imagine that–in the grass! They look like little tissues scattered on the lawn in the morning dew. If you look closely you’ll see a funnel, which is where the grass spider hangs out until some unsuspecting insect flits onto the web.lawnweb

funnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. We don’t, in fact, have Recluse Spiders–which is news to me. The poisonous spider that lives in this part of Oregon is the less common Hobo Spider, which can do some tissue damage if you get bit by one.  Hobo Spiders are one of the many funnel weaving spiders, and they tend to live in shrubs, wood piles and forests. Even Hobo Spiders are NOT aggressive–towards humans at any rate. They have no bone to pick with you but just want to live their lives going about their merry business.

Enjoy the wonder of October spider webs–and look up pictures on line to identify the spiders that spin them.

And leave spiders alone. Besides being our friends (our foes are, after all, their food), they relish a sunny October day, too.

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