About a month ago I planted a new crop of Arugula. Every morning and every night I check on the plants (proximity is a great benefit apartment gardening); sometimes checking under their leaves for bugs, sometimes just watching and enjoying the moment, and sometimes witnessing something amazing!
Case in point, my new favorite gardener: The Spider!
A closer look. So cute!
One day while watching the Arugula plants grow I spotted a very cute spider sitting on the edge of the planter, staring at the plants just as I was. I got my camera, snapped a photo and went inside to show Sam. What did I find when I came back? That same little spider with a bug in its tiny mouth; looks like an aphid! I left the camera inside with Sam so I couldn’t get a photo, but it looked something like this:
Spider and Arugula: 1, Aphid: 0
This makes me happy for a number of reasons.
1. Aphids are the bane of my existence.
2. We have created a healthy ecosystem that attracts beneficial insects like spiders.
3. This spider is adorable and a pleasure to watch.
4. Reinforced my decision to not use chemicals in my garden and to continue buying organic.
I am sure I will get into why aphids are annoying and why a healthy ecosystem is imperative another day, for now, let’s talk beneficial spiders!
Spiders are master predators feeding on insects such as aphids, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, and so on. However, you should be aware that spiders do not discriminate. Though you may be saddened to find a honeybee or butterfly caught in a web, it is up to you the gardener to weigh the costs and benefits. If it eases your mind Professor Susan Riechert of University of Tennessee reassures that spiders prey more on harmful insects than beneficial ones. She also states “The more spiders you have, the less problems you have.”
Did you know spiders eat more insects than both lady bugs and praying mantis?
Spiders like to hide, they like to spin, and I have found they even like to jump and ambush. Because of this, a super manicured garden is not an ideal spot for a spider! A super manicured garden is just asking for a bug problem; and with no spiders around, I am sure those pests will enjoy eating your garden clean.
Try these tips to attract spiders to your garden:
- Grow tall plants on which spiders can cast their webs.
- Plant lush bushes in which spiders can hide.
- Avoid pesticides which are lethal to spiders.
- Give them a home by placing over turned pots throughout the garden.
- Designate a small are of your garden to be mulched with dead leaves or grass clippings. This will provide moisture and cover for spiders to lay their eggs.
- Create a lush and diverse garden. Even spiders like flowers!
In addition to spiders managing harmful insects, they also attract beneficials like Birds, Lizards, and Bats who view them as a tasty treat. Nature is so cool ☺
Getting Over Fear
Know your spiders! There are only a handful of spiders in North America which are truly dangerous. Here they are:
- Brown Recluse
- Black Widow
- Hobo Spider
- Yellow Sac Spider
(If I am missing any, please let me know.)
Get to know these spiders; learn to ID them, learn their habitats, and learn what to do if you come across one. If you can easily identify these spiders, you can also easily determine the spiders you have nothing to worry about (most of them)!
Knowledge is power!
Spiders do not want to hurt you! “When spider bites do happen, they tend to occur because the eight-legged beasts are surprised — for example when a person reaches into a glove, shoe or nook that they are occupying at the moment” –Buddle Read more about that here: Live Science
These cuties may also help alleviate your fears…
In case you have not noticed, I like bugs!
Can spiders be found in your garden?