Spider mites are a threat to home gardens everywhere. They are hard to detect, but common across the country. In some cases, the bugs are
difficult to spot and gardeners do not even realize they have an infestation until it is too late. The spider mite takes up residence in your garden, invites his friends over, and terrorizes your plants. The sooner you get rid of this pest the healthier your garden will be. However, spotting the illusive little creature is sometimes quite a challenge.
Once the gardener knows there is a problem, they are likely to look for an insecticide to remedy the issue. It is always better to use this as a last resort. These powerful chemicals can harm your seeds and your crops. Once pesticides are applied to plants, it is also difficult to wash them away. This means when the crops are harvested and eaten, you will be ingesting all of the chemicals used to treat the pest problem. Miticides are another option and are safer then insecticide. They are usually the best option once the infestation has grown out of control. Applying these chemicals on the regular basis will take care of the problem, but over time they can hurt the plant. Organic chemicals are also an option, but still not the best route and should be avoided if possible.
Watching for their prey in the center of a radiating geometrical snare, we often find the garden spiders. The beauty of their vertical orb-webs
and the large size of these strikingly marked creatures always attract our attention during summer strolls. No one who has ever watched a
garden spider at work on its “woven wheel” can help but admire the wonderful skill exhibited in its construction and the manner in which it
is accomplished. The spinning organs or spinnerets, consisting of little tubes leading from glands in the abdomen of the spider, secrete
the viscous fluid that hardens into silk on exposure to the air. Measuring carefully by its ruler-one of its own legs-each spoke, or
radius, and each circular mesh of silk which interlaces them is placed with accuracy and dispatch, the whole forming a radiating framework of tough, silken threads, with the net itself between them, strong and elastic. An extra zigzag band of whitish silk is provided at the center
These webs, built to resist the wind and weather and retain the struggling captives that “blunder in,” often measure two feet in diameter. They are usually made upon herbaceous growth along country roadsides, and in the marshes and upon the grasses and weeds in the meadows and open places. In these habitats, where insects are busy, the spiders reap a rich harvest. During the late summer and autumn, the grasshoppers form a great portion of the garden spiders’ diet. The “hopper” happens to land in the web, and the spider rushes out from its station to the point at which the struggling captive is vibrating the web. If the grasshopper is large enough to tear the net it is rolled over and over by the spider, with deft movement of its legs, and wound and bound with more silk until its struggles have ceased.
When threatened by dangers, or disturbed during its periods of watchful waiting, the spider quickly drops to the ground and feigns death. It spins a thread of silk as it drops and when the danger is over it returns to the web by means of this thread. Adult females of the garden spider may grow to measure over an inch in length, and are beautifully marked with spots and bands of black and bright orange yellow, while the males-about one-fourth as large-cut poor figures beside their large and irascible better halves, who, not infrequently, eat them.
Garden spiders mature late in the summer and during the autumn we find the evidence of maternal instincts, the devoted care with which the wearing mothers make and fill their pear-shaped egg-sac. The mother spider dies soon after this labor is performed. The eggs hatch soon after they are placed in their winter quarters, and the young spiders spend the cold months snugly housed in their silken bag, waiting for the magic touch of spring, which carries the message of the awakening world.