Archive for Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spiders are underappreciated artisans

Intricate webs add to tapestry of fall’s landscape

A spider weaves its web in the morning, collecting dew from the cool air. With the arrival of fall, more spiders may be noticeable as they settle in and prepare to lay egg sacs before winter.

A spider weaves its web in the morning, collecting dew from the cool air. With the arrival of fall, more spiders may be noticeable as they settle in and prepare to lay egg sacs before winter.

September 29, 2009


Webs they weave: Local expert discusses spiders

Deborah Smith, an associate professor of entomology at KU, discusses common spider webs one might see around Lawrence. Enlarge video

If you’re seeing more spiders than usual hanging out in their webs in hopes of trapping another hapless insect, it’s not just in your head.

Deborah Smith, a Kansas University entomologist who studies the eight-legged arachnids, said yes, while the actual number of spiders is about the same, a number of species native to the area are more noticeable in the fall.

“They’ve gotten big and fat over the summer. They’re ready to lay eggs, and they’re spinning great big orbs, so they look really conspicuous this time of year,” Smith said.

While the webs look beautiful to Smith, she knows they can creep some people out. But most spiders in the area pose no threat to people, she said.

“There are a few spiders that people should be concerned about,” including the black widow and brown recluse, Smith said. “For the most part, most of the ones you would encounter here, their first response would not ever be to bite a human.”

How spiders create webs varies from species to species, but for the orb weavers that create the large, circular webs often found in the area, it’s all hard-wired in each spider, Smith said.

“You can take a spider off a web as she’s spinning it and put another of the same species on somebody else’s web, and they’ll be able to assess where they are in the process, and pick up where the other one left off,” she said.

Of course, not everyone finds spiders as welcome guests in their home.

Business has been brisk this year at Haley Pest Control, said Joanie Haley, the Lawrence business’s office manager who takes most of the calls.

“We’ve had a lot of calls for brown spiders, and just regular spiders, too,” she said.

Lots of times those “brown spiders” can be poisonous brown recluse spiders — there’s a picture on their Web site, — but Haley said proper identification can be difficult.

“Usually by the time someone has killed it, they can’t really recognize it,” she said.


bobberboy 4 years, 1 month ago

Yea - if a spider was big enough to catch you it would suck out your brains !!


bobberboy 4 years, 6 months ago

As soon as I got home tonight I went out and clobbered a few spiders. Yuk !


75x55 4 years, 6 months ago

Garage? Good starting place.

Also, try basement, under beds and furniture, any cardboard boxes you might have on floors anywhere.... If you put stick paper/glue traps in your registers and under furniture, you'll be surprised what you find. Have any boards or cardboard leaning against the walls in your garage? You've probably got some big-dog BR's hangin on the backs of those.

Also, the pretty light/medium brown color turns nearly black the larger they get, and they can get pretty darned big. Found one a few weeks ago in the garage where the legs spanned better than two inches, body was about 3/4" long.

He got a nice cocktail to sip on....hospitality comes first, after all.


alm77 4 years, 6 months ago

The other day my kids and I were shopping at The Toy Store and they have octagon frames to put in your garden just for spiders! I am definitely getting one of those. I wouldn't know a Brown Recluse from a Black Widow, but that info on Haley Pest Control's site makes me want to clean out the whole garage!! Ewww....


Eride 4 years, 6 months ago

Pfft. There is nothing more incredibly annoying and gross than a spider.


Pywacket 4 years, 6 months ago

I love the orb weavers--especially the beautiful black & yellow argiopes. I have taken dozens of pictures of them over the years. When a spider (usually one of the big brown ones with the striped legs) spins right outside our doorway or in another area where we need to walk, we just catch it on a broom or something and relocate it.

I understand why they spin on our porches and around the doors--they are taking advantage of the nearby lights that draw insects. Those bugs that are drawn to the lights then wind up (literally) in a web and become dinner for the enterprising spider.

As for brown recluse, we have no mercy for those things. We kill any that we see and put glue traps in areas where we or the dogs won't be likely to step on them. It's creepy how many BRs the glue traps catch.


coldplay 4 years, 6 months ago

Ortho Home Defense Max....I zapped one last week that made a "thud" sound when I scooped him up with a shovel and tossed him in the trash. Big old ugly bastard. hate the things.


75x55 4 years, 6 months ago

I suppose I'd appreciate 'em more if they didn't spin these "webs de art" in doorways at face height. "Hi, Mr. Spider...I'm glad I wear glasses...."

And regarding BR's, nothing makes me chuckle faster than someone in Kansas that says "We don't have any in our house...."


bobberboy 4 years, 6 months ago

I like to create art with spiders. I usually use a blow torch and a broom.


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