Garden Spider Facts: All You Need To Know About The Spider In Your Backyard
In this post I’m going to do something a little different and talk about the garden spider. This may be a website about tarantulas, but I get a lot of questions about household and garden spiders as well – particularly from people who are suffering from arachnophobia and want to know how they can get over their fears and live in peace with these creatures.
I honestly find that education and exposure is the best way to cure arachnophobia and get someone more comfortable around tarantulas and spiders – so my goal will be to educate you on garden spiders, considering that you will continue to come in contact with them your entire life if you live somewhere with grass!
Garden Spiders: what are they?
Garden spiders are beautiful. They are known as orb weavers because their webs are orb-shaped. Believe it or not, even baby garden spiders (spiderlings) have the ability to weave amazingly delicate, intricate webs all by themselves – without their spider moms teaching them!
Orb weavers live all over the world and they can usually be found anywhere where there is grass – especially gardens and meadows. They prefer to make their webs in sun-filled places where there is very little wind.
If you are a homeowner, you will notice that you’ll have a lot more garden spiders from the months of March to May – that’s because even though baby garden spiders hatch in autumn, they stay dormant in the winter. In spring, they emerge to look for food and mates.
Are garden spiders dangerous?
Not all all, unless you mean dangerously USEFUL! A lot of people consider garden spiders to be pests, but that is the completely wrong way to look at them. Did you know that garden spiders do wonders for keeping the insect population in balance?! If it weren’t for garden spiders, you’d have far more bugs – and those are the REAL pests!
Garden spiders are NOT aggressive spiders, and they will only attack if bothered. However, some people are very intimidated by their big webs, and female garden spiders can get quite big. Despite their size, these spiders are actually pretty harmless! And if you do get bitten by a garden spider, it hurts less than a bee sting. To be honest, a garden spider is more likely to run away from you than bite.
How garden spiders live and behave
Garden spiders will make their webs on twigs, trees, and branches, or other plants. Their webs are extremely strong and usually rather big – some may reach over 60 cm in diameter! With that being said, garden spiders are able to attract a lot of prey with these giant webs and will usually capture a wide variety of prey.
Because orb weaver’s eyesight is very bad, garden spiders are very sensitive to the vibrations from their webs. They will usually sit in the center of their web upside down, waiting for something to be caught in their web. Once they feel the vibration of something getting stuck in their web, garden spiders will jump on their prey and inject venom into it so they can paralyze their prey. Once their prey is immobilized, the garden spider will drag it to the center of their web and start liquifying it with their digestive enzymes. Once the prey is liquified, the garden spider can consume its meal (this is also how tarantulas eat).
Garden spiders also use their webs to help them mate. Male orb weavers will tap on the webs of females to signal their intentions. Unfortunately, male garden spiders live far shorter lives than females because they can sometimes die of exhaustion and malnutrition due to the obsessive partner hunting they do in mating season.
Do garden spiders bite? Are garden spiders poisonous?
Like I previously stated, garden spiders will typically not attack unless threatened or disturbed. A garden spider is usually not dangerous (unless you are allergic to spider bites). If you do get bitten by an orb weaver, you will usually only suffer mild swelling and a little bit of pain – much like you would with a bee sting.
Now that you know all about garden spiders (orb weavers), there is really nothing to be afraid of! They are fascinating creatures and worthy of respect and appreciation, like all spiders! Not to mention, you will likely encounter many garden spiders throughout your life due to how common they are – so you might as well get comfortable with them.
If you are still feeling squeamish about spiders or just want to learn a safer, more humane way to handle insects and spiders in your home, I found a great product that would work on garden spiders (and any other insect in the house). It’s called the Critter Catcher. Basically, it safely and gently traps spiders from a distance so you don’t have to get near them and can kindly put them outside (or somewhere else away from you). No mess and no guilt about squishing spiders!
Here’s the Critter Catcher in action:
Here’s how it works:
You can order a Critter Catcher here. In the meantime, enjoy your garden spiders!