Garden Spiderlings

October 30, 2019

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Photographer: Kathy Arbuckle 
Summary Author: Kathy Arbuckle 

One morning this past May I walked into my hay barn near Spokane, Washington, and a peculiar sight caught my eye. Stretched across a few stems of hay were hundreds of tiny spiderlings bunched together in a nest of delicate webbing they’d strung out shortly after hatching from the egg sack their mother had laid and sheltered during the previous fall. Each tiny arachnid was a minute version of what would later become a beneficial, eight-legged garden spider, snagging pests in their sticky, marvelously engineered orb webs.

Since the youngsters had hatched in a precarious place, I chose to relocate them to a safer, more natural environment, out on the rows of raspberry canes where they could begin to catch insects and have a better chance of reaching maturity. A good many of them most likely moved to other locations through ballooning. This is the process by which small spiders spin long filaments of silk from their spinnerets on the ends of their raised abdomens to catch an atmospheric electric current called the Atmospheric Potential Gradient (APG) that will carry them to new destinations.

Later in the summer, I saw many yellow garden spiders perched among the raspberries as I picked this tasty red fruit. These creatures are useful to gardeners and should be protected. Photo taken on May 22, 2019.