Garden good guys — Part 2
There is another group of Garden Good Guys who are very effective at controlling plant pests, yet, are some of the most feared and disliked small creatures. There is actually very little reason to fear this group. They are spiders. There are a wide variety of spiders which live in North Dakota. Thankfully, two that are actually harmful to man, the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow, are very seldom seen. But, their reputations along with sensationalized movie spider characters have given them all a bad reputation.
Orb spiders spin the classic spider webs we associate with spiders. There are a number of them in our state, and all are very effective at pest insect control. They spin their webs in our gardens, shrubs and trees and catch a wide variety of insects. They are very effective at catching the most dangerous insect in North Dakota that actually is responsible for human deaths. That insect is the mosquito. I counted the mosquitoes captured in an orb spider web in our patio perennial bed a year ago. In just one night, there were over 60 mosquitoes in that web!! A garden good guy for sure!! Orb spiders can be different sizes and colors, but one of the most colorful is the Black and Yellow Orb spider.
Another group of web spinners whose webs we see many times on our lawns and other places on the ground are the Funnel Spiders. Their webs are most easily seen early in the morning when they are covered with dew. The web spreads out flat on the tops of the grass. In the center of the web is a tunnel down into the grass where the spider waits for its prey to get in the web. Again, there are a number of different Funnel Spiders in our state.
The last group of spiders I think are important are very seldom seen. They are the Jumping Spiders. They do not spin webs but catch their prey by literally jumping onto them. Most are very small ground dwellers and are seldom seen. Their leaping ability is amazing for so small a creature.
The nice thing about these 3 groups of spiders is that they do not want to be in buildings. They want to be outside. So they will not be a problem in your home, garage or storage shed.
Give them a chance. They are working for you!!
Ken Eraas is the Ward County Extension Horticulture Assistant. You can reach him by calling 857-6444 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.