The many types and varieties of spiders in a xeric garden are truly impressive. Some create intricate webs; others spin a single strand to trap their prey.
Jumping spiders don’t have a web at all, chasing down their prey on foot.
Trapdoor spiders construct a tunnel to hide in, only emerging when an insect plucks one of the trip wires laid out all around.
Spiders have an uncanny knack of building their webs where insects are sure to pass – usually right at face level so we also walk right through them.
Did you know that some spiders eat their webs if they’re badly damaged, to spin them out again?
Now that’s sustainability!
Spiders will only build when the weather is fine – in the early morning if you see lots of webs with the dew on them, it’s sure to mean a day without rain.
Most spiders in British Columbia prey on pest insects, sometimes bees or other beneficial insects.
Many are small enough to hide among crevices in tree bark, under a leaf, or in a web in the barn. In turn, they become food for birds, or even other spiders.
There are three spiders that have been known to inflict a poisonous bite – sometimes leading to serious injury, even death.
They are the Black Widow spider which is known for hiding in dark unused places such as inside concrete blocks, wood sheds and basements.
Shake out any clothing hung in these types of places before you put them on. Their webs are a messy cluster, with large egg sacs that the female spider protects with a vengeance.
Also note that they are not always black, they also come in varied patterns.
The Brown Recluse spider – named for its habit of solitary living, this spider also hides from activity.
It is the cause of several very serious injuries, and its venom can cause fasciating necrosis or flesh eating disease, leading to amputation or a long healing process.
It is not known for sure if it’s in B.C., but several sources list it as a resident. Unfortunately, a bite can sometimes take a couple of days to show the red bulls eye appearance, by which time, the culprit is long gone. Use caution when cleaning out attics, garages and basements, as this type of environment is where they prefer to make their homes.
The Hobo spider is a wanderer, and also has been known to cause injuries.
In spite of the fact that there are a few bad apples in the spider barrel, most are placid and helpful in the garden, catching many pests and insects.
Once you start looking at spiders in your xeric garden, you’ll find them fascinating and diverse creatures.
Learn more about Spider Identification; find your spider here.
They're useful too, and they deserve more of our respect - after all, they do a good job of pollinating, scavenging, cleaning up the dead, and preying on overpopulated pest insects.
Planting a nectar corridor or butterfly garden will attract many insects - butterflies, bees and other pollinators will flock to the colourful blooms for the nectar, and other plants will be used as butterfly food by many species.
Make sure when you plan your xeric garden, you leave some room for these incredibly helpful, and fascinating creatures, the insects, and the many spiders that use them as a food source.