5 Garden Spiders That are Beneficial for Your Plants

beneficial garden spiders

Despite their reputation, most spiders are harmless creatures that provide great benefits to nature and people.

And while they have a scary appearance to many, understanding the role they play is important to keep them around your property.

There are over 38,000 species of spiders on the planet.

And yet only four present a danger to humans.

They include the black widow, hobo, yellow sac, and brown recluse.

The rest of the spiders do not present a danger and provide a valuable service in consuming insects.

Because spiders stay in one place, they can become ravenous when spring arrives and consume all sorts of insects which mostly include those that are pests to humans.

While most spiders tend to live in trees and spin their webs to catch insects, there are over 200 species that live in the ground.

Their presence not only reduces the insect population, but also aerates the soil, improves the passage of water, and pulls away unwanted residues that make the topsoil better suited for planting.

What follows are five species of garden spiders that you will want on your farm.

They provide several benefits while not presenting a danger to you, your family, livestock, and pets.

1- Hunting Spiders

These are larger spiders that include the crab, green lynx, and wolf versions which can be quite frightening for many to see.

They are called hunting spiders because they do not weave webs to catch prey, rather they hunt for them in the grass, gardens, and other outdoor locations.

Wolf spiders will pick a place to ambush its prey, most notably bugs and slugs

While crab spiders will lie in wait normally inside flowers.

But for the most part, hunting spiders will be out at night searching for prey.

Some species of hunting spiders have the capacity to jump as well.

This means that they will hunt flying insects during the daytime when they can see them better.

2- Jumping Spiders

Perhaps the most frightening of the non-poisonous spiders, the jumping spider gets its name from its tendency to jump when near something threatening such as humans.

There are over 4,000 species of jumping spiders, they have eight eyes, and will react normally by jumping when they get too close to something they feel is threatening.

And while jumping spiders are not poisonous, they will bite if they feel threatened.

For the most part, the bite will cause a red patch to appear on your skin, but little more.

3- Orb Weavers

These are some of the most beneficial spiders when it comes to reducing the flying insect population.

Although orb weavers can be distinguished by their relatively large size of up to one inch for females, they are best known for the magnificent webs that they weave, hence the name.

Orb spiders come in difference colors along with sizes with the females being significantly larger than the males. 

4- Sac Spiders

Sac spiders do not build webs and instead hunt for their prey in the garden and crops of the field.

They are often found on grapes as they make a good hunting ground.

Sac spiders will consume leafhoppers, caterpillars, and many different pests simply by bumping into them as they hunt.

Small in size, sac spiders are often mistaken for the brown recluse, but they lack the aggression of that more dangerous spider.

Still, they can bite if they feel threatened and will leave a red patch on the skin that may blister over time.

While the bite itself is not dangerous, it is possible for the bite to become infected, so it needs to be treated right away. 

5- Web Spinners

These are the most common of spiders as they spin webs in tree branches to catch their prey.

Web spinners are not picky about what they eat which may range from wasps to butterflies.

Once their prey has caught itself in the web, the spider will dash out and bite them which will kill its victim and then wrap it in silk to protect the remains.  

Only afterwards will the spider consume its prey.

Web spinners have been the source of inspiration for many, including Robert the Bruce in which the legend says his observance of a spider determined to finish its web helped him understand how patience and persistence would win independence for his kingdom of Scotland.

Of course, there is also the tale of a barn spider known as Charlotte whose web saved the life of her friend Wilbur in one of the most popular of children’s books.

Why Spiders are Good for Plants?

The main benefit of spiders is their hunger for pests that eat the plants and flowers in your garden.

Flies, mosquitoes, wasps, aphids, beetles, and the like will consume what you have planted or present a threat to you and your pets.

Spiders keep the population of such pests in check.

You can think of them as your natural pest control as many garden spiders will eat at least one insect per day and often more.

Garden spiders will become dormant during the cold months of winter but will awaken in the early spring around the same time as most insects.

They will start eating quickly and help prevent certain pests from becoming too numerous during the early days of spring.

Not only will they keep the insect population down, but they will also reduce the chances of diseases being spread to your plants. 

How to Bring Beneficial Spiders to Your Garden?

Chances are, you have at least a few garden spiders present.

The problem with trying to attract a spider is that they do not operate in that manner.

Spiders tend to wander about until they find what they want without any specific direction.

If your garden is a hive of pests, they will find their way there.

But if your garden is devoid of prey, they will keep on moving.

In a sense, this is a good thing because it means your garden has few pests to harm the plants.

Sac spiders need places to hide while orb weavers need some type of structure to hold together the webs that it creates.

But there are a few things you can do to maximize the chances of spiders finding their way to your garden.

  • Plants: Include a few plants that will attract unwanted pests
  • Mulch: This creates more humidity in the soil which spiders enjoy
  • Residue: Crop residue should be left in the grass during the winter to attract spiders
  • Avoid Pesticides: What kills the pests will also drive away the spiders

It may seem counterintuitive to have plants which attract pests, but they will bring in the spiders to consume them.

Put the plans on one side of the garden away from your most valuable plants.

So, the next time you see a spider, give it a wide enough berth to let them do their job.

Given that almost all spiders are relatively harmless and provide great benefits to your property, leaving them alone as best you can, is always the right choice.

For the times in which you need to work in your garden, you can minimize contact by wearing gloves and long sleeves to avoid small bites.

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