What's the Benefit of Having Spiders in the Garden?

What is the benefit of having spiders in the garden? That is a rhetorical question, I am not really asking. As a gardener, I know the benefits of having a predator live in my garden. Making the garden hospitable to spiders, and allowing them to biologically control garden pests, is all part of gardening chemical free and being as natural as possible. I am not a hippy or anything like that; I wanted to have bugs in my garden to photograph so I decided I would stop using bug sprays, and just let nature take its course. For the most part, it has worked out fabulously and I have no regrets. Although, nothing challenges my commitment to natural methods of pest control more than seeing the garden covered in spider webs during the summer. Spider webs like this one I took in the garden recently. If you have a fear of spiders close your eyes for a second and think of England as you scroll down past this picture of a spider and its web.

Spiders in the garden. Good or Bad?

Still here?

Spiders can be good for your garden. Nothing eats as many garden pests as spiders do. Their appetite is voracious and observing one in the garden is both thrilling and meditative. These little creatures can spend all day rebuilding a web after it has been damaged in the hopes of catching yet another meal. I cannot help but cheer watching a spider catch a wasp or an earwig. Yet nothing makes me feel stabbier than when one catches a ladybug, honeybee or butterfly. Spiders do not discriminate- someone should put them in charge of rental properties, human resources and airline security-they will eat anything!

Because of their very nature, having too many spiders in the garden is a bad thing. They will quickly colonize a suitable environment and do away with all bugs, good and bad. What makes a garden suitable for spiders? Tall plants like the purple coneflowers in the background of the picture above made good places for spiders to build a web. Also popular are the fence, trellis and perennials planted too close together. I have found that the underside of broad leafed perennials like hostas make good spaces for smaller spiders who will lay eggs were the leaves meet the stems. Leave a terracotta pot laying on its side in the garden and spiders will build a web or nest and catch some of the pests that crawl around the garden.

Even though the spiders in my garden and I have an understanding that does not mean they do not creep me out. I have been known to collect a spider or two on a yard stick and fling them out into the sidewalk if they are too close when I am weeding or watering the garden.  I’m all about natural methods of pest control, but even I have my limits. What is the benefit of having spiders in the garden? That’s not really a rhetorical question. It’s a mantra I have to keep repeating to myself every time I feel creeped out by spiders to remind me that they’re good to have in the garden.

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