crab spiderHow many times recently have you walked into your garden and felt a strand of silk across your face? Or spotted a spider running across the family room floor as you watch the TV news? The end of summer is a time when spiders seem more abundant in many parts of North America, and can be a great time to observe these magnificent creatures spinning webs, catching prey, or even mating!

black and yellow argiopeOne reason for spiders appearing more obvious now is that they've been growing all summer, and the spiders that are around are just bigger and easier to spot. The spiders we see in webs are typically females, feeding to strengthen themselves for egg laying. Different species of spiders spin distinctly shaped webs, and you can tell by the design what type of spider lives in the web. Orb-weavers, such as the commonly encountered cross spider and the black and yellow garden spider, create a classic spiral like in Charlotte's Web (though without the writing). House spiders construct a sheet like web leading to a corner hideaway and many cobweb weavers make a tangle of threads over vegetation.

jumping spiderNot all spiders live in webs. Crab spiders are sit-and-wait predators, hiding in flowers for a bee, fly, or butterfly to alight. Many other spiders are free-roaming hunters, using their excellent eyesight to find and track prey. Wolf spiders have long legs for a speedy chase. Jumping spiders have short, powerful legs that can launch them great distances to capture other insects These spiders do not weave a web to trap insects, although they may use silk for other things. Wolf spiders, for instance, carry their eggs in a silk case and jumping spiders spin a safety line as they leap, in case the gap is too large and they fall.

male wolf spiderThis is also the time of year when male spiders go in search of a mate. These are often the ones that cross your carpet. Males look like they have a pair of boxing gloves in front of their face. These are the spider's sensory palps, which in males have bulbous ends; on females, the palps are the same thickness from base to tip.

crab spider and preySadly, there is a great level of ignorance about spiders and they are generally reviled despite being highly beneficial creatures. A typical house and garden may support seventy or eighty species of spiders, who eat insects including garden pests. For information about the wonder of spiders, read the article "Tiny Predators in Your Backyard," by Greta Binford, from the spring 2008 issue of Wings.

We hope you enjoy watching the spiders around your home!

Visit these links to learn more about spiders:


An art exhibit now open in Los Angeles, CA


If you are in the L.A. area (or will be traveling there), the G2 Gallery in Venice has an exhibition of fantastic spider photographs taken by Rebecca Jackrel and Xerces member Miriam Schulman. Proceeds from Arachnophilia will support the Xerces Society. The exhibit runs through Nov. 6th, 2011.


Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces executive director will attend the reception on Saturday, October 29. For more information on this event, please contact the G2 Gallery at (310) 452-2842 or visit www.theG2gallery.com.  

1971 - 2011: Forty Years of Conservation
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide for forty years, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

To learn more about our work, please visit www.xerces.org.
Your contribution goes directly to support
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If you are not already a member, please consider joining the Xerces Society. As a member, you will receive two issues of our member magazine Wings each year. For more information on membership, or to renew an existing membership, please visit the membership page of our website. Please email suzanne@xerces.org if you have any questions. 
Please visit our online store for books and publications on invertebrate conservation, including popular titles such as:
Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies
Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year
All photos  Bryan E. Reynolds
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