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Spiders are active in the garden, but dont let them scare you
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A yellow garden spider spins a web outside an home in East Hall. - photo by Michelle Boaen Jameson

I have noticed a lot of spider webs hanging from everything imaginable as of late.

If you ride down the road on your way to work or school, look at the power lines. You will see dew-covered spider webs strung between the lines.

You probably encountered a web in the face as you walked out your front door this week as well. That is a great way to wake up, isn’t it?

Between now and Halloween, we will be seeing more spiders around our yards.

The first hard frost will kill them off, but right now they are mating and producing egg sacs. Their eggs will overwinter and re-establish the population next spring.

There are two orb-weaver spiders with large webs that are most commonly seen around Northeast Georiga.

Barn spiders (Araneus cavaticus) can be found on porches, where flying insects attracted to porch lights get trapped in their webs.

These spiders are nocturnal, constructing a new web every evening and taking it down before dawn. This rusty-brown spider has legs extending about 2 inches, making it look large and noticeable.

These spiders hide during the day, but at night are found in the middle of the web, waiting for insects to be trapped.

The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is one of the longest spiders we have in Georgia.

It is frequently found in gardens and around shrubbery where it constructs large webs to snare flying insects.

The abdomen has distinctive yellow and black markings while the front part of the body, the cephalothorax, is covered in white.

The female yellow garden spider typically remains in one spot throughout her life, repairing and reconstructing her web as it is damaged and ages.

Her web may have a distinctive zigzag of silk through the middle, explaining its other common name, "writing spider."

Unlike the nocturnal barn spider, the yellow garden spider can be found in its web anytime. Sometimes a smaller spider will be found in the web with her; this is the male garden spider.

These spiders actually have been present all summer, eating pest insects and growing larger. By late summer, they are large enough for people to start noticing them.

Another common spider found around the landscape this time of year is the spiny orb weaver. These tiny spiders have hard shell-like abdomens that are often colorful and thorny.

Their webs, however, can be rather large and very intricate and are usually found in and around shrubbery.

One spider we don’t see much of around here is the venomous brown recluse spider. While they have been found in Georgia, they are not very common, unlike the black widow. Either way, care should be taken when working in the landscape and around piles of wood and debris.

Always wear gloves, shoes and preferably long sleeves and long pants to protect your arms and legs from bites.

Georgia has more than 800 species of spiders, all of which are harmless if you leave them alone. All spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them.

And they also help curb pest populations in the garden.

With Halloween coming up, you may want to leave those webs hanging on your porch. Consider them free decor care of Mother Nature.

The University of Georgia contributed to this story.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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