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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Organic gardening, Spiders

I'd like to help a friend start gardening organically. She is concerned about spiders in her garden, especially around her lawn. She would like to know of safe ways of getting rid of the spiders so her children will not be hurt by them.


Generally, spiders are not a problem with lawns, and are certainly not normally seen in large numbers at one time. They are considered beneficial in the garden, as they eat other insects. We do not often encounter dangerous spiders here in the Pacific Northwest. The following links may be useful in reassuring your friend.

  • Colorado State University Entomology
    "Spiders are beneficial inhabitants of any garden, ecosystem, or home because of their important contributions to biological control of pest insects. Spiders are considered to be the most important terrestrial predators, eating tons of pest insects or other small arthropods every year. Spiders are generalist predators that are willing to eat almost any insect they can catch. They are abundant and found in most habitats. They only need to be left alone!"
  • Burke Museum's Spider Myths by Rod Crawford
    "Myth: Spiders in the home are a danger to children and pets.
    Fact: House spiders prey on insects and other small creatures. They are not bloodsuckers, and have no reason to bite a human or any other animal too large for them to eat. In any interaction between spiders and larger creatures like humans, the spiders are almost always the ones to suffer. It is so rare for spiders to bite humans that in a 30-year career of handling tens of thousands of live spiders, I personally have been bitten twice. Both bites had only trivial effects.
    A person who is not an arachnologist would not likely be bitten more than once or twice in a lifetime. ('Mystery bites' which people thoughtlessly blame on spiders, don't count! There are no invisible spiders...).
    Very, very few spider species have venom that can harm humans, dogs, or cats. In most parts of the world, no spiders with medically significant venom have much chance of being found in houses. In the few areas that are an exception to this rule, the harmless house spider species still greatly outnumber the more toxic ones. And spiders whose venom happens to be more toxic to us, are no more likely to bite us on that account; they are unaware of our existence.
    Why, why do people waste their time worrying about spiders? It is not spiders that are dangerous to your children; the dangerous ones are other humans!"

For more general information on organic gardening and lawn care, see the following:

Date 2017-05-26
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Spiders

I just saw a ball of tiny yellow spiders with black dots clustered on the end of a Santolina stem. Are they beneficial in the garden, or should I remove them?


Your description sounds like the cross orbweaver (also called cross spider, because of the white markings on the back of its abdomen), Araneus diadematus. Its baby spiders (spiderlings) are yellow with black markings, and they crowd together and seem to move as one if disturbed. They hatch (in groups of hundreds to almost a thousand) from a fluffy-looking pale yellow egg sac. The Washington NatureMapping website has a factsheet about this species.

These industrious spiders build a new web each day (after eating the previous day's web). They are often found close to houses and illumination (at my house, the nests appear behind the porch light) and in gardens. Their diet consists of invertebrates, so in that sense, they do provide some benefit in the garden.

Cross orbweavers in your garden are not a problem, though humans occasionally encroach on their space, and the spiders may bite in reaction to the disturbance. Some people are more sensitive to the bites than others. My strong recommendation is to let them be, and enjoy observing them.

Date 2018-06-07
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May 31 2018 13:14:08