Too Many Widow-makers

Part of my reason for doing a wild garden is to see what happens when I let the balance of prey and predators occur naturally. Last year, I had very few pests in my veggie garden other than squash borers. This year, I have a large snail population but they don’t seem to be doing much damage.

However, I have an aversion to spiders – they are fine when they aren’t on me, or where I might be reaching. I tolerated a garden orb spider in 2015 in the tomatoes because I could easily spot her and she was doing awesome predatation on bugs who wanted my tomatoes.

Garden spider, Argiope aurantia
Garden spider, Argiope aurantia

I found a Carolina tarantula last week (better know as a giant wolf spider, I think) on a tarp I was moving. The business card is to help with scale.

Giant wolf spider, perhaps, Lycosidae sp.
Giant wolf spider, perhaps, Lycosidae sp.

While terrifying, I know they aren’t dangerous to mammals, just to the big grasshoppers, crickets, and wood beetles.

However, I hit my limit this week. Here’s a video of a large black widow (Latrodectus mactans) in a stump in the yard. That was sort of OK; they are very shy and it was in a remote area. ​She had a half-grown grasshopper caught in her web.

​But then I found this yesterday in the compost bin:

img_7282_rs I think that’s an egg sac that looks like a tan nut. According to this site, only about 30 of those 100-400 babies will survive the cannibalistic orgy upon hatching; the rest are a favorite food of praying mantis (which I’ve got in spades) and mud daubers. But I had already seen one big momma on the stump; even if only 10 spiders total made it to maturity, that’s way more black widows than I want to deal with or worry about biting the dogs. So the compost bin has been cleaned out; there’s lots of other spiders to eat.

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