Thursday, July 5, 2012

What's with all the grass spiders?

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It's the strangest summer.  Everything has looked like August since the middle of June.  The leaves are starting to yellow and fall, the current weeds are ones you see in August and September, and the yellow jackets are out, even though I usually only see those in September.
One thing that really stands out is all the grass spiders' funnel-shaped webs that seem to have popped up everywhere.  They seem to blanket the hillsides at Radnor Lake, but they are also all over the place in the less-traveled parts of our yard.  They look like sheets of spider web with a funnel in one corner.
Grass spider web.
Since I only remember seeing them in late August and September, I assumed that was their active season.  It turns out that they are active all summer, but the dry dust gets caught in their webs, making them visible.  We are seeing them now because we've only had a quarter inch of rain since the end of May, and everything is really dusty.  Grass spiders are not taking over the world - they've been here all along.

White patches are grass spider webs.
Grass spiders are neat spiders.  They build their sheet web with a little hidey-spout to sit in.  They often dangle some web threads over the sheet too.  Any insect that stumbles onto the sheet or flies into the threads and drops is doomed.  The web isn't sticky, so the insects aren't trapped; rather the web spider is shockingly fast and races out from the funnel as soon as it feels a victim on the sheet.  You can observe this phenomenon yourself if you catch an insect and drop it on a grass spider web. Grass spiders kill their prey with venom, like most spiders do.  They don't bite people, and the venom is harmless to us if they are forced to bite you (if you pick one). 

Grass spider web with funnel in the middle.
Grass spiders are beneficial organisms.  They eat pest insects and help me with pest control in the vegetable garden.  I'm glad to have them in the yard.  They tend to stay put on their webs, so I don't find them in our house very often.  Male grass spiders do go a-wanderin' when it's time to find a mate.  They must have a defined mating season, because it seems one night every spring I walk into my kitchen (near the back door that isn't sealed very tightly), turn on the light, and there are two or three male grass spiders searching for love on the kitchen floor.  Here's a link to see what grass spiders look like (they are only about an inch across, but the picture makes them look gigantic). 


  1. Natural Spider Repellent is Within Your Reach

    If your home is being invaded by spiders don't sit there afraid to put your feet on the floor. Get up and get angry and try some or all of these tips that you're about to get on spider control using natural spider repellents .

    1. Chestnuts are a wonderful deterrent for spiders. Just place some of them around your home where you think common spiders would be attracted to and you'll find they will look for other living quarters.

    2. Don't smoke? Well don't knock it! When tobacco or chewing tobacco is mixed with water and lemon dish detergent it is deadly on spiders. When mixing don't forget to strain off the tobacco. grass spiders bite

    3. Peppermint and Lavender combined and brewed with pennyroyal, cinnamon or orange oil can work fantastically. Place the brew in a bottle and spray, spray and spray.

    4. There are ultrasonic insect repellants on the market that work and offer excellent spider control. These may cost you a few bucks but they are so worth it if you're looking for a natural spider repellant.

    5. Horse apples can become a real good friend when they is sliced and hung in every room of your home. Spiders hate them.

    6. Another simple spider control is coconut oil, vinegar and water. It works so well you knew vinegar, the woman's right hand cleaner, had to be in there somewhere didn't you?

    7. Cleaning your home every week will decrease the chances of spiders wanting to move in drastically. Spiders love dust and debris, they also like remains of other dead insects so clean well when you do it. Get more about house spiders

    8. Then there is the last but not the least way of safely getting rid of spiders and this one although a little bit out in left field works. Puree some dead spiders with water, strain and put water in a spray bottle and start spraying. This works like a charm.
    cellar spider

    So don't sit there and be surrounded by spiders. Get up and provide your own spider control with some of these tips. You will be so glad you did and once again you can feel safe when the spiders decide to move out. via insect test facts

    1. You seem to be missing the point of this article . . . the idea is apparently to live with spiders, and you are taking the tact how to get rid of them. Read on if you'd care to learn about how to live with spiders and how they benefit the ecosystem scientifically.

      Spiders may look small and insignificant but they're important predators and prey for a multitude of other animals. As any horticulturalist can tell you, they're great garden allies, too.

      Spiders eat lots of insects, mostly those smaller than themselves. Taken as a whole and given the diversity of species assemblages in most ecosystems, spiders' primary niche in nearly every ecosystem is controlling insect populations.

      Furthermore, spiders are an important food source for a variety of birds, lizards, wasps, and, especially in deserts, mammals. So, if we want to live in a world with wildlife -- with birds, for example -- if we want to co-exist, then it's clear we need to keep spiders in our life . . . and in our grass.

      Finally, hopefully you’ll find them fascinating after learning a little bit more about how important they are to the earth’s ecosystems.

      Al LePage, BS Biology, M.Ed. Science