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