In the early morning hours, you may see a striking work of art stretching across a doorway or between plants – an orb weaver spider web. Their elaborate, sticky, wheel-shaped webs, measuring up to two feet in diameter, are recreated daily. They eat their web and build a new one! The web extends the spider’s sensory system and helps trapping her next meal. These beneficial inhabitants of the garden are generalist predators that consume many insect pests and other small arthropods – just about anything they can snare into their web.
You can’t miss one of these relative spider giants – the larger female can measure up to an inch in length exclusive of legs! Hanging in the middle of their intricate web, they’ll patiently sit and wait for the vibrations of a flying insect landing on the web then rush to the unfortunate victim and paralyze it with venom.
These spiders, most active during the day, prefer sunny places with little or no wind to build their webs. They’re the favored food of birds, some species of wasps, and lizards. To attract them into your garden, use mulch to provide protection and humidity, grow plants that attract prey, and avoid using pesticides.