Garden Orb Weavers

You know the big scary looking spiders that hang out in the middle of those huge, perfectly round orb webs, the ones that stretch between tree branches and shrubs?  When we think of spiders, it’s usually an image of an orb-weaver that appears in our minds.  If you can just get past how big they are and look closely at the beautiful webs designed by these miniature architects, you may appreciate what they do for your garden landscape.   Orb weavers come in different colors and sizes and act like little pest control technicians, eliminating pesky garden insects.
Neoscona oaxacensis

Western Spotted Orb Weaver (Neoscona oaxacensis)

Orb-webs and Catching Prey

Creating an orb-web is a primitive trait which has been lost by many spiders of today. As different spider species have evolved, they’ve become predatory instead of using a “let’s make a beautiful web and sit-and wait??? technique. Many have become hunters, and jumpers, and ambushers.
Orb Weaver in Web

Yellow and Black Orb Weaver stretched out in the center of her web.

Garden orb-weavers rely on their web creating abilities for catching prey. At night an orb-weaver consumes the circular middle of her web and then in the early morning, she rebuilds it with fresh new silk. If the webs are destroyed, orb-weavers will build again, usually in the same spot; especially if the area where she built her web was successful in catching flies, mosquitos, and other insects. When an insect gets caught in her web, she injects her venom and then wraps the prey in a small cocoon and waits until it dies before consuming it.
Black and Yellow Garden Spider

The Yellow Garden Spider has a distinct web with a vertical zigzag.

Orb Weaver Mating and Reproduction

Female orb-weavers make the big circular webs whereas the males are usually roaming around, looking for whatever female they can find. Once the male has found a female orb weaver, he creates a small web near or within her web and then begins his courtship; he plucks at the strands in her web to entice her into coming closer into his web. Just in case she isn’t in the mood, he has a safety drop line, ready for a hasty escape. After mating, the male dies……and sometimes it’s because – she eats him. Female Garden orb-weavers live on average one to two years and usually lay their eggs in the fall. Come spring, when the weather warms, the new spiderlings hatch and begin a life cycle of orb-weavers all over again.
Western Spotted Orb Weaver Spider

The underside of a Western Spotted Orb Weaver

Pest Management

Orb-weavers are beneficial spiders feeding on unwanted insect pests. If you can avoid removing them and let the spiders perform a little pest control, your plant life will surely benefit. Orb-weavers hang outdoors, literally, in the middle of their webs. They are non-aggressive but will bite if threatened however; their venom isn’t strong enough to harm humans. If you really can’t stand the site of their majestic webs, hosing them down regularly will keep them from building again but as with all spiders, you have to eradicate them with direct contact. Treating with traditional or organic pesticides gets rid of insects, the orb-weaver’s food source, and thereby eliminates the chance of new spider webs forming around your home.
Orb-weaver spider in large web

Orb-weaver spiders create elaborate webs for catching insects.

Call today at 1-800-986-1006 for help with a spider infestation. You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.
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References

Mallis, Arnold, Handbook of Pest Control, Tenth Edition, The Mallis Handbook Company, 2011 BugGuide.net – Western Spotted Orb Weaver; Family Araneidae Orb Weavers Wikipedia – Orb-weavers

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