Avoid killing these crawly creatures – they eat insect pests SPIDER SEASON

By Eric Barrett

OSU Extension educator

It won’t be long until the nights begin to get chilly. Just as we seek comfort in hot chocolate and a sweatshirt, spiders seek comfort by invading our warm, protected spaces.

Spider populations seem to peak in the fall because of the cool weather.

There are more spiders than any other insect predator in the home landscape.

They eat many insects that harm our garden and landscape plants.

There are around 3,000 species of spiders in the US, with Ohio being home to more than 600 of those species.

Most spiders will not harm you. Some of our experts remind us that some people are allergic to spider bites, though.

The common wolf spider tends to be seen around old houses in late September. This is because they like to build tunnels in the soil or hang out around old boards or rocks for protection.

The female wolf spider can be nearly 1.5 inches long.

They are generally brown in color, with gray hairs.

Wolf spiders mate in the fall, with the female overwintering in protected areas.

Basically, they are large and scary. Just think of them eating the noisy crickets, the annoying houseflies and the slimy cockroaches. That will help you understand their helpfulness.

The yellow and black garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is an orb weaver.

These spiders can get over 2 inches long.

They are not as scary, and are quite a sight to behold in the garden.

They have long, black legs with light-colored bands.

They are more well known because of their daytime activities.

The cucumber beetles that chew holes in our vining vegetable plants and transmit disease to these plants are a common prey of the yellow garden spider.

This spider’s web is quite intriguing, with a white zigzag pattern in the center. It is one of the orb-weaving spiders.

All orb-weaving spiders produce a familiar, flat spider web with a distinctive design.

These spiders do not have good vision. They are all sizes and shapes.

The size of their webs can range from just over a foot to over ten feet in diameter.

Funnel web spiders are generally a half-inch or smaller.

They are brown with various markings.

They make the large, flat webs you see on shrubs. Their webs are not sticky.

When prey make the web vibrate, the spider dashes out of a funnel to get the prey.

For those of you worried about being bitten by poisonous spiders, know that it is rare to encounter these spiders in our area.

It is the venom from spiders that is potentially harmful. Most spiders have venom that is toxic to the insects they prey upon, but not toxic to humans.

If you do encounter an unusual spider, though, we can assist with identification in our plant and pest clinic in our office.

Homeowners should remember that all spiders are predators, and all species in Ohio feed primarily on insects.

Beyond their beneficial status, spiders also are fascinating creatures that exhibit a wide range of beautiful color patterns and some spectacular engineering feats.

Although there are several insecticides labeled for spider control, this is not a recommended practice.

Spiders are important in reducing insect pest populations.

We urge you to practice restraint when dealing with overall, general applications of insecticides for their control.

To identify your spider or to learn about the common spiders we see in the fall, go to http://go.osu.edu/fallspiders.

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