Garden Spiders, Are They Harmful?

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Garden Spider – Weavers of the Fascinating Web

The Argiope aurantia spider, commonly known as the yellow garden spider, black-and-yellow garden spider and some call it the writing-spider.  Is she good for the garden or not?  I agree she is shocking when you first come in contact with her but she is completely harmless, in fact, she is actually a good thing for the garden.

Argiope aurantia Spider

In the females, the abdomen is black with symmetrical patches of yellow.  Her legs are reddish-brown at the base and   black towards the tips.  She can grow up to 1.5 inches in body length and the female actually grows twice the size of the male.

Habitat of the Garden Spider

She is completely harmless to humans but does feed on flies, bees, aphids and other flying insects that get caught in her web.  She can spin a web over night.  It is circular in shape and contains a highly visible zigzagging X shape in it.  It is not really know specifically why the zig-zag exists, but it is speculated that it is for birds so they do not fly into the web and destroy the spiders hard work.

They can spin their webs in porch overhangs, from tree to tree, and other outdoor places.

The male spider seeks out the female in the web and after mating, he will die and the female can live for years if she is not killed by cold temperatures.  After she mates, she will create a brownish-paper-looking sac that contains 300- 1500  babies inside.  They will hatch in the fall and remain in the sac and lay dormant until spring when they emerge.  So protecting her and her babies is good for your garden.  If you see one of these spiders or her sac – DO NOT DISTURB! For more information on this spider go to this link.

Garden Spider Sac

We have 3 that have been living in the garden for a couple of months now.  I’ve known they were there but was hoping they might move on before clean-up time.  2 of the 3 have been living in the okra and I have had to let pods go to seed because she had her web attached to the plant and I didn’t want to destroy her web.  The 3rd is living in one of the basil plants.

Since I’ve been out cleaning the garden and getting ready for winter, I have cautiously worked around all of them.  I’ve actually named them all 3 Gretchen just because they have continued to move from plant to plant and they all look exactly alike.  They also have brown sacs that are hanging in the okra and basil as well.

Bed saved for Garden Spider

You can see in the vegetable garden above that it’s all cleaned and ready for the cover crop to be planted with the exception of the one bed of okra still standing and then the very large basil plant at the very end of the front bed still remaining as well.

It makes me sad to know that winter is coming and they will be doing their best to survive.  So I have decided that I will not be removing the basil plant nor the okra stalks they are living in.  I want to give them every chance to survive.  I don’t think giving up a small space in the garden for them isn’t too much to ask.

The weather is cooling and it is enjoyable to go into the garden and admire their hard work and to watch them spin their prey they catch in their webs for food.  Do you have garden spiders that are living in your garden?



One thought on “Garden Spiders, Are They Harmful?

  • October 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Good info to know about spiders.


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