This summer, garden spiders are weaving cobwebs like cotton candy machines. Unsightly webs and victims trapped within the plaited threads make gardens and structures look old and unkempt. Frustrated, a reader recently asked the question, “What types of plants eliminate spiders?”
Although one can avoid plants that spiders favor, like hedges, boxwoods, topiaries, vines, and begonias, there aren’t any spider-eliminating plants. Even smelly plants like society garlic don’t ward off spiders.
Hiring a professional exterminator won’t eliminate spiders either. Chemicals work only when sprayed directly onto the spider, and most spiders hide while waiting for their prey. What people forget, or may not know, is that garden spiders are essential components to the biological control in and around the garden.
The garden spiders’ web weaving tactics used to trap the next meal abolishes bad bugs such as wasps, aphids, flies, and disease carrying mosquitoes, making them beneficial to humans and pets. In the article Spinning and Weaving Spiders, the author goes so far as to encourage gardeners to plant a variety of flowers to attract food for spiders. A naturalist or a gardener who delights in maintaining a raw habitat in his or her yard may knowingly grow spider-attracting plants. But most gardeners aren’t going to invite more bad bugs into their yard, which seems a little counterproductive.
Spiders can be scary, especially to those who suffer from arachnophobia. Even if you don’t have a fear of spiders their cobwebs are downright hideous. But we can, at least, appreciate the role of garden spiders as natural predators—allies of the ecosystem. Although garden spiders come packaged as the ugly and the scary—sorry, spider-eliminating plants not included—they are one of the good bugs. © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre