Do you know what an orb weaver is? It is a large spider that catches its prey in a circular web. Every year, starting in late August, I notice many spiders and their webs around my yard and even as I drive around town. When the light hits the webs the right way, they are absolutely magical. If the light goes another way, they are invisible.
This week I wanted to cut some hydrangea blooms and I noticed an ambitious spider had created an amazing circular web between two branches of the hydrangea shrub. It was an enormous web, stretched out between the branches. I was grateful I had noticed it and didn’t make any cuts to disturb it.
Recently I also noticed a silver orb hanging over my compost bin in the morning light. It looked like a Christmas ornament floating in the air. I grabbed my camera and sat down in the dirt next to the bin to photograph this incredible circular design with a spider in it, as shown in the photo. As I admired the intricacy of this web that was glistening in the light, I moved quickly to photograph it because I know how fleeting the light is. Later that afternoon the web was invisible because the sun had moved.
All these spiderwebs appearing in late summer got me thinking, how do spiders help gardens? It turns out that spiders are very beneficial for gardens and gardeners. They are voracious eaters that trap all kinds of insects in their webs, then eat them. There are spiders that attack insects directly and don’t create webs. But the web spiders, known as orb weavers, eat many annoying bugs such as mosquitoes, aphids, flies, beetles, and wasps. These spiders can protect you and your plants from many pests.
Late summer is when the orb weavers are mature and capable of spinning enormous webs. If a web gets destroyed during the day, the spider will build a new one at night. The spiders are very active this time of year. If you have a garden be sure to notice them and appreciate the balance they can bring to your environment.