Saturday, June 13, 2009

Along Came A Spider

It’s been a little over ten years since I did any outdoor gardening. That’s a long time. And although there are many things about this wonderful hobby that are now just faded memories, this isn’t one of them:

(Photo from MorgueFile - Contributed by member: marykbaird)

The first time I got a glimpse of this eight-legged wonder sitting on a large web covering my tomato plants, I froze. I’d never seen anything so beautiful and yet so frightening. This was the largest spider I’d ever come face to face with, and although I’m far from being an arachnophobe, something like this can certainly trigger a few symptoms.

I found out later on that the beast holding my tomato plants hostage is the Argiope aurantia, commonly known as the Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, Banana Spider, Corn Spider or simply ‘Garden Spider; one of the most beautiful – and intimidating – garden creatures.

And totally harmless.

Not only is it harmless, it’s also very beneficial. With its pest-controlling capabilities, and a voracious appetite to boot, it will polish off flies, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, thrips, (insufferable) aphids and numerous other garden nuisances that make you want to throw in the trowel. So although the Argiope aurantia looks imposing, it’s a gardener’s friend and should not be harmed. If you do find one in your garden, don’t kill it. Move it if you must, but don’t cause it harm.

For those who may be wondering what became of my garden spider: No, I did not kill this pretty critter the day I found it in my backyard - it’s hard to do that when you’re running away screaming – but I did destroy its web so it could move to another spot. Because while I do appreciate how hard it works in helping to keep my garden free of pests, having to reach through its overwhelmingly large web to get to my tomatoes is not acceptable.

6 comments:

  1. They are not just big -- they are huge! And scary looking. I have had a few in my shed.

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  2. Boy do I understand the running away and screaming part - I've perfected that! I can't even relocate the things - just plead for intevention from a braver person. What was nature thinking when she created arachnids?

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  3. Hi islandgardener, you are right; they are huge! I've never seen anything quite like it. I would never hurt these pretty things but I'm not about to reach out and pet one either... :)

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  4. Hey there tatiana... Was that you I heard screaming the other day? :) These pretty little creatures are big enough to intimidate anyone! I've gotten used to them in the backyard, and I’m more comfortable around them...from a distance :) But don't even bring up the topic of millipedes... Now there are creepy crawlers that I can't even think about them without heading for the hills!

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  5. Wow--what a great shot! It's actually quite pretty, but if I were face to face with it, I probably wouldn't be thinking about that! I agree that you should be able to access your tomatoes! Glad you only had to remove it's web and not kill it! Jan

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  6. Hi Jan,

    Yes, it's a beautiful photo. I found it on the stock photo site, The Morgue File. I have sent an email to the photographer to say thank you, and to provide a link to this post. The Morgue File is a fantastic website if you're looking for free photos to add to the theme of your blog.

    I really don't like to kill bugs, unless absolutely necessary.

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