Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Spiders & Their Webs - Our Eerie Friends

‘Tis the season that Halloween decorations pop up around the country. A festive favorite for many homeowners is the faux spider cobwebbing strung about to create a creepy, spooky aesthetic. While the seasonal decorations are a staple of Halloween, the real things tend to be far more orderly than most of that webbing and often give insight into what kind of spider or insect you are dealing with. 

Orb Weaver Spiders Create Recognizable Webs
Orb Weaver Spider & Its Web (From Deb)
Spider webs range from the orderly and planned spoked wheel-looking orb weaver webs to the black widow’s web, which resembles what I would imagine a spider web would look like after a long weekend in Las Vegas – disorderly and half-baked. Regardless of their apparent utility or lack thereof, these two varieties use their webs for refuge and to trap prey. Imagine a house that hunts your dinner for you. 

Huntsman Spider on a wall indoors
Martina the Huntsman Spider
Then you get to some aptly named groupings of spiders, funnel web and triangle spiders. Guess what their webs look like? While the designs are simple, the beauty is in that simplicity. Triangle spiders lack venom and thus need to use their fuzzy (not sticky) webs to smother their next meal. Funnel spiders, the hobo spider being one of them, build a one way street for prospective prey trapping them on a path to consumption. Being the conniving architects they are, funnel spiders plan ahead and make sure to attach an emergency exit for themselves allowing for quick flight from the premises. 

While spider webs can take us by surprise and be a hassle to remove, at least they give us an idea of where our spider friends have been lurking. Hunting spiders – wolf spiders, jumping spiders, huntsman spiders – don’t give us that warning. They will appear when they like and often when least expected. These guys also tend to be larger than some of their web-building counterparts, hunting down bulkier prey in the vast unknown of nature. The good thing is, you can befriend them like one of my colleagues, Cara, has done. Meet Martina the huntsman spider. 

Spiderman in his natural habitat
The thing to remember about spiders and their webs is that they combine to kill a lot of the bugs we find to be nuisances. If they’re nearby, chances are good that the spiders are providing you a public service and free pest control. Remove them if you need to, but refrain from killing them on sight. Our eight-legged friends do quite a bit more good than bad in the grand scheme of things. 

Contributed by Sterling N.

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