Spiders can be Your Best Friends in the Garden

Lucy Mercer
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Spider in the Garden | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Late summer is the time you’ll see spiders in your garden. The next time you see a spider in your garden, don’t reach for a broom to knock down the web, or a spray to kill it. Spiders are among your best friends in the garden.

You see more spiders in August because the insect population they feed on is so big, according to Theresa Rooney, author of “The Guide to Humane Critter Control: Natural, Nontoxic Pest Solutions to Protect Your Yard and Garden,” (Cool Springs Press).

The spider population increases to prey on the insect population, and will reduce the number of pesky pests in your garden, like bothersome mosquitoes that bite you, and pests that damage your garden, like aphids.

“When you have spiders in the garden, that’s a sign of a healthy ecology,” Rooney says. “Take time to watch them for a few minutes. It’s amazing to watch them spin their webs and capture prey.”

Of course, there are some pests that you don’t want in your garden, like poisonous spiders and snakes. If you’re allergic to bees and wasps, you’ll want to keep those away, too. Wasp nests on the ground and fire ant hills can be dangerous, and will need to be treated.

But let spiders build their webs, and if they’re in high traffic areas around your home, walk around them for a few days. The webs will be knocked down soon enough by winds and birds.

Garden spiders are just one critter in need of a fresh perspective. Consider the bagworms that fill pouches in conifers like pines and arborvitae, and some deciduous trees like wild cherry. They’re unsightly, to be sure. But think of them as baby bird food. A mama chickadee needs 3,000-6,000 caterpillars to feed her clutch of eggs, and those worms are high-protein snacks for baby birds. 

The best treatment, Rooney advises, is to leave the bags in the trees. If the aesthetics are not pleasing, you can also use a broom to pull the bags out.

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