Monday, May 18, 2009

Nursery Web Spider

When I went to prepare the potato bed this weekend I had to move the 2x10x8 board that would become one side of the bed. In doing so I alarmed the half-dozen or so spiders that had taken up residence on or under it. That included this huge beauty which people over at the Wildlife Gardeners forum identified for me as a Nursery Web Spider.

It is a large spider that was around 4 inches from leg tip to leg tip. Since I have this picture of him on the bench I should probably go confirm that measurement when it isn't the middle of the night.

The spider took its time getting down off of the bench I had leaned the board against for this photo op but once he made it to the mulch he quickly disappeared underneath and I left him be. I'm not sure why I'm calling it a he, maybe because it is to scary looking to be feminine in my eyes.

If it is a future mom to be I sure wouldn't mess with it! I am also incredible pleased to have this spider hanging out in my garden. I have no fear of spiders and feel they provide a good general barometer to the health of a garden. Lots of spiders means the space is providing food for prey insects, but more importantly that those prey insects are getting eaten by the spiders.

While I'm sure some would say that having prey insects around is bad since they are eating the garden, but I like to look at it as an overall balance. In a sterile garden if an insect species does make it through the chemicals it can have a population boom with no competition or predators alive to tamp it down. My garden is consistently nibbled on, but I've yet to suffer devastating insect damage. That level of damage has only been caused by bunnies so far and I hope having plenty of spiders and other insect predators around will keep it that way.


Becky said...

Isn't she beautiful! I guess the title "Big Mama" could have come from spiders. The males are incredibly tiny in some kinds. You took great photos right down to the hairs and those eyes.

C4 said...

Thanks for the comment Becky. I think you're right in giving her the title "Big Mama!"

Michelle said...

I told Chris that all spiders are female and named "Charlotte"! ;D