On the heels of Pollinator Week, it seems appropriate to celebrate another important member of the arthropod family, arachnids. These are our eight legged friends that often find themselves flushed down, stomped on, screamed at, and generally disrespected. It's difficult to change the mind of someone afraid of spiders, those fears run deep, but they really are unfounded. If we learn more about spiders and can look past the body and all of those legs to appreciate their usefulness, maybe we can do our best to try capturing them in a cup and setting them free outside or even letting them live where they're happiest and well-fed (which, sorry, may be indoors), rather than eliminating them. The thought of spiders may give you the creeps or an epic shudder, but believe it or not, a spider inside is not a bad thing ! For example, did you know that spiders eat many household pests like cockroaches, earwigs, flies, moths and disease carrying mosquitoes? Those are bugs that live in your house and do feed on you, your kids and your pets. While you sleep, they may be preventing you from getting diseases. Spiders also help crops by feeding on damaging insects like aphids and destructive caterpillars. So they can prevent diseases and assist farmers with crops, many spin intricate, stunningly beautiful webs. Spiders are sounding better already, aren't they? We should be putting them on the payroll, not squashing them!
One more thing, since we aren't a preferred food source, they rarely attack humans. Very few are deadly or even toxic to us. So when you see that itsy bitsy spider climbing up the water spout, let it climb on and protect you from the real nasty critters lurking in your home, garden or yard.
Okay, one last note! Some are also quite beautiful if you can bring yourself to get close enough for a look. Above is a harmless banana spider found in the tropics. How can you not appreciate that beauty?
Below are several very busy honey bees. What pollinators are in your garden or back yard? If you want to celebrate pollinators this week as well as protect them, always choose native flowering plants, shrubs and trees over exotic species. If a plant’s label says insect resistant, that’s a bad thing! And remember to never use pesticides of any kind in your garden or yard.
If you’re looking for an awesome read this summer, grab a copy of Douglas Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home. You’ll be visiting your local nursery and requesting natives, ASAP!