Sometimes Spiders Are Our Friends

Many people have a fear of spiders, but these insects are not always our enemy. In many respects they’re friends to us humans.

Over the last few weeks I watched a big spider build a web. It wove it’s new home between a gutter down spout, and the deck railing outside my kitchen window.  Spider And Cobweb Each morning as I make breakfast I check the progress of this web weaving.

A few mornings ago I saw something large in the web – much larger than the spider, so I went outside to see what it was.

I found a bumblebee had flown into the cobweb, and gotten entangled. I realized it was a recent entanglement because the spider was just heading toward the spot where the bee was hung up.

Spiders feel the vibrations in the webbing that captured insects create when they move while trying to free themselves. Those vibrations tell the spider that there’s new food waiting. The spider heads to the source of the disturbance, and bites the object to inject its paralyzing venom.

Then it comes back after a while to wrap the food up, and store it for later eating.

I watched the bee as it struggled until finally managing to free itself. Evidently it was strong enough, and big enough, that the stickiness of the webbing couldn’t hold it. When it came free the bee dropped to the ground, and then recovered to fly away.

The new web where the bumblebee freed itself was now a total wreck.

I was glad to see the bumblebee go free. As long as I don’t have a bee nest located where it poses a stinging hazard to anyone I leave them alone. They reward me for that by carrying pollen around, and dropping it so my flowers grow.

But most of those eight-legged insects are our friends. Except in the case of a brown recluse – those rascals leave a pretty nasty bite. And that’s something you really don’t want to suffer through.

Spiders catch, and eat, those bugs we don’t want around. If you pay close attention to a new cobweb you’ll find all kinds of these “bad” insects caught up in the strands. I’ve spotted a lot of mosquitoes (and I’m all for a spider that eats as many skeeters as it can) trapped in spider webbing. Not only that, but I found flies, ants, and even a cockroach here and there.

Those, in my opinion, are unwanted “bad” bugs.

Mosquitoes, flies, ants, and roaches are no more than nuisance pests.

I’m sure you know how nasty a cockroach is, and I’m sure you want to keep them out of your home. But do you know that flies lay their eggs in the nastiest places? Outdoors one of the favorite places for a fly to have their babies is in a pile of dog manure. They lay their eggs there, the babies grow to adulthood feeding on the manure, and that’s what you got flying around you.

Ants crawl all over your food, and leave their pheromone trails on it. You can’t see that stuff, and you eat it without knowing it’s there.

Mosquitoes? Well they leave those red, itchy bumps all over you. You can’t enjoy an evening in the yard without them attacking, and feeding on you.

All of these eight-legged creatures are venomous. But for the most part the poison isn’t strong enough to harm a human. The exception is that some people are allergic to the venom, and if you’re one of them you don’t want to get anywhere near a spider.

But if you aren’t allergic, and you’re not looking at a highly poisonous insect like the brown recluse, leave those spiders alone. They’ll eat the bothersome bugs, and show you that they’re your friends.

 

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