Season of Sweaters, Soups, and…Spiders?? Why there are so many spiders in Fall?
The air is starting to cool, leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow/orange, and everywhere I turn it seems like I’m caught in another spider web. It seems like all these eight-legged friends (enemies?) come out full force in Fall. It happens every year although this year there are noticeably more hanging around.
I don’t mind the spiders as long as they are not the poisonous variety. We mainly have orb weavers here and they are perfectly harmless. The common garden spiders spin beautiful orb shaped webs thus their alias name of orb weavers. Being a gardener, I actually consider them as an ally. I can’t tell that to my wife though. She still runs in fear when she sees one and refuses to go anywhere near places they’ve been spotted.
Anyways, they are very beneficial to gardens. Spiders eat many of the insects that can damage and destroy a garden such as beetles, flies, and grasshoppers.
Do Garden Spiders Have Venom or Bite?
If you’ve ever gone near a garden spider you may already know; they are extremely afraid of us humans. Imagine being a spider in your web just enjoying the day, when all of a sudden a giant, hundreds of times your size, comes knocking at the door. The normal reaction would be to run and hide, which they do.
This spider was hanging out in a tree in my front yard.
I moved a little closer and a curled leaf made a good hiding spot from the giant human!
Most of the garden spiders do have weak forms of venom that they use to immobilize the insects they trap in their webs. Many compare the venom to that of a fire ant or bee sting. I’ve been stung by fire ants and bees thousands of times, but never a spider. Bites from these spiders are Extremely Rare because of the mentioned run and hide thing. If you have a garden spider in your hand trying to crush it, then it may bite you. But really, why would you be doing that? Otherwise they are perfectly harmless and mind their own business.
So Why Are There So Many Spiders In Fall?
Probably about the fifth web wrapped around my head got me wondering why there are always so many spiders around this time of year. I did a little research on spiders and this is what I found out.
It turns out that the appearance of all the spiders in Fall is largely due to their life cycle. Fall is basically mating season for garden spiders. Female spiders are normally the ones that you see hanging around in webs. The large abdomens are the main identifying characteristic of female garden spiders. Male garden spiders tend to be smaller and roam around instead of building webs. The female garden spiders build their impressive webs to capture meals but also to attract a mate.
The male orb weaver spiders wander the Earth searching for “Mrs Right” and those large webs make her easier to find. After the spiders mate, the male typically dies either naturally or is eaten by the female. Love hurts!! The female will then lay her clutches of eggs, spun in a protective sac, throughout Fall with the last eggs coming before cold weather moves in. The baby spiders hatch during the fall but remain inside of the egg sac where they are protected all winter. Both the male and female spiders are usually dead before Winter.
During the warming of Spring, spiderlings emerge from the sac and build their own tiny webs near where they hatched. They then tend to lay low during the Summer months while they continue to feed on insects and grow. By the time Fall arrives, the spiders are big enough to venture out and start the mating process all over again.
How Get Rid of Spiders Without Killing Them
I’m sure they’re not aiming for my head when they build their web, but it sure seems that way! I know the first instinct for some people is to kill a spider. Or maybe grab a flamethrower and burn everything within a 15 foot radius! If you can resist that urge here are a couple ways you can relocate them to a better spot more out of the way
You can grab a broom or some other long object and twirl in around in the web until the spider is on board. Then simply take it to another location. As a bonus, if you have a plant that needs protecting from insects, move the spider there. Many times the spider will set up shop there for an easy meal and be your very own “guard spider”.
I relocated this spider from my deck to my tomato plants in the garden.
Orb weavers tend to leave their web during the day and retreat to a hiding spot nearby. Destroy their entire web before early evening which is when they’ll return. After a couple times of doing this, the spider will get the idea and move on elsewhere. They’re smart like that!
Spiders love an easy meal, and will flock to places where they can get one. One of the popular spider hang-outs is near an outdoor light source. Insects are drawn to lights at night, and where the insects go, so do the spiders. If possible, don’t leave the outdoor lights on constantly. This will keep the insects and spiders at bay.
There is also this cool gadget I came across (above) that is designed to relocate spiders and other insects without touching them. It has a long reach so you don’t have to worry about close encounters. Check it out here.
In conclusion, there are a lot of garden spiders out this time of year just looking for love. They are harmless, and probably more scared of us than we are of them. They’ll soon be gone as the weather turns cold. In a way that’s sad because that also means an end to another gardening season.