Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spiders: My companions on fall walks with the dogs

Spider hanging from his web
My early morning walk with Liam is usually one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.  I drink my coffee and listen to NPR on the headphones while Liam scampers alongside.  This time of year, however, the morning walks also involve bending, ducking, and alternately, screeching, swatting and shivering. 

Every fall, it seems that our neighborhood is overrun large, striped, fast-moving spiders that like to build webs across our doorways and walkways.  I asked Jean R. Natter, Volunteer Faculty with the OSU Extension Office, if there were truly more big spiders out and about in the fall.  Natter’s response, “I'm not aware of any official numbers, but I suspect not… The spiders are more conspicuous at this time of year because they have grown considerably larger since they hatched either this spring or the spring prior to that.  In other words, when they were younger, their webs were smaller than they currently are, thus were less noticeable.”

My first inclination upon seeing these spiders is to whack them into oblivion.  However, Natter recommends leaving them in the yard.  They do, as she says, “…help limit the pesky insects that annoy us and occasionally damage our gardens and landscapes.”  And I know that killing one spider just makes room for another spider to move in and make a home.  So I have moved a broom by the back door, so I can move the more egregious webs that I can reach, and I am practicing my limbo moves for the morning walks.

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