Anyone here seen Charlotte’s Web? Do you remember them stressing how beneficial spiders are to us and our world? That isn’t a joke; they are quite helpful, especially the yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia).
Sure, they’re scary and fast and they have way too many legs. But in actuality, spiders eat whatever might hurt us and our gardens and crops.
As freaky as they are, they legitimately are our friends in the grand scheme.
You’re going to learn some interesting facts on just how important these spiders are against insect pests , as well as how to attract them and their relatives.
Benefits of Garden Spiders
They eat like crazy, and unlike your more or less typical four-year-old, they aren’t picky in the slightest.
If it hits their web, munch! Put simply, the more spiders you have around your garden, the healthier both you and your crops will be.
More spiders equal fewer pesky insects taking bites out of you and your plants.
How to Attract Spiders to Your Garden
The best way to attract Argiope aurantia and other beneficial ones is by displaying attractive real estate. Yes, provide protection from the elements.
They are always on the lookout for cozy little hovels to call home. Whether they’re tall grass or crops, bales of hay, or moist mulch.
Firstly, you’ll want to cut down on the use of pesticides. Those will eliminate all spiders — good and bad alike.
Not only will the spiders appreciate the extra decorative touches in the added shelter cover, but if you leave some of your garden untouched over the winter, it gives them a good place to hunker down against the cold and start again the following spring when you do.
Honestly, a garden spider’s lifespan depends on where it’s located, as well as its sex.
Typically, a male will often die after mating with a female, since he either gets eaten or his life is just up.
The female will usually live long enough to produce an egg sac or two before dying herself once the heavy frosts hit.
Of course, if the weather in your area is frequently mild, you might see the same female living for one or two years before passing on.
What do they Eat?
The easier question is what don’t they eat?
If it flies, hops, or crawls and is unlucky enough to wander into the spider’s web, it’s a straight-up lunch, no questions asked.
Some of the bigger individuals can even tackle animals like hummingbirds and frogs, though this isn’t too common since they don’t usually live to get that big.
Yellow Spider Benefits
This one is a highly useful little buddy to keep around since they’re veritable arachnoid ninjas.
They’ll attack and eat virtually anything that moves, such as wasps, mosquitoes, butterflies, aphids, flies, and gnats.
This one is interesting too because while most species hang in the center of their webs, these ones hide off to the side. They connect to the web by a thin strand of silk to ambush a prey quickly when it hits.
The only problem is that they’ll also nosh on insects that are beneficial, like honey bees and butterflies if they get the chance. But honestly, the pros far outweigh the cons.
Besides, this little fellow will have more than a choosy selection once the season gets into full swing.
There are several different names the black and yellow spider can go by. Just to name a few, we have zig zag spider, yellow orb weaver, writing spider, yellow-spotted spider, and corn spider.
Other common names include black and yellow argiope, golden garden spider, black spider with yellow spots, and golden orb-weaver.
Where Can You Find Them?
They have an incredibly extensive range to attribute to their unfussy dining habits.
You can find them from coast to coast across the expansive United States, all the way down through Mexico and clear into Central America.
Their favorite places are going to be in verdant, green growth in sunny places.
These plants act as anchors for their trapping webs, so you will frequently find them in backyard gardens and small farm fields.
They’ll be hanging from their webs, waiting to swoop down on anything that might have wandered a bit too close.
Are They Poisonous?
You can relax; the Argiope aurantia is NOT harmful.
They do have venom, but given their size and general diet, they gear their toxins mostly toward taking down insects.
So if you are bitten, it’s highly unlikely anything will happen unless you’re allergic to spider bites.
Just be glad you’re not an insect, as their venom also acts as an acid and turns the internal organs of the insect into easily digestible goo before the spider even begins to chow down.
Yikes! As a warning, while they’re not deadly, they will bite if provoked, so it’s best to leave them be.
Other Beneficial Spiders
Other types of spiders like the garden orb weaver, grass spider, and the often filmed jumping spider with its huge, puppy-dog eyes (you heard me) are often a farmer’s best friend.
These little guys are just as hardy and voracious and equally as unfussy about their food.
Jumping ones are also considered among the most intelligent of the arthropods. They have even been documented recognizing humans who frequent their territories.
There is also the Sac spider. They don’t build webs and are most active during the nightly hours. They feed on destructive insects including leafhoppers and caterpillars.
So while it’s true that not every spider is one you want around , such as the Black Widow, the Brown Recluse, and the Hobo spider, the Argiope aurantia and its various contemporaries like jumpers are precisely what the bug doctor ordered.
They’ll rid your garden of a wide majority of the pests plaguing it. So if you can stand the sight of these little guys, then you can almost guarantee a healthy, thriving garden this year, free of insect pests.