The Potager

The Potager

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Along came a Spider

Fourth of July - I find my husband, son and daughter-in-law standing near my rain barrel looking at something. Looking at this:
This is a black widow spider. I know they live around here. I've seen them in the yard before. But never where I live in the yard. Never where I could have just reached down to pull a weed and been bitten by this:
Fact: Black Widow is the most venomous spider in North America. The venom is 15 times more dangerous than rattlesnake venom. (Oh, yeah, we have them around here too. In New Jersey.)
But of course, humans are not on either's food chain and they will only bite you if you do something stupid (like trying to move a rattlesnake off a road) or if you do not see them when reaching into a confined space, like next to a rain barrel.
I suggested we relocate the spider, but hubs said no.  Both hubs and I love spiders. They eat bad insects and are fascinating. I wasn't suggesting killing it, just finding another part of the yard for it to live in. One that I don't ever go in. But I was out voted and the spider stayed.
Fact: Only female black widow spiders are venomous.
I looked for the spider the next day before I watered my flowers with water from the rain barrel. The web was there, the spider wasn't. But then I saw this:
The "this" I was looking at was that round egg sack in the upper left hand side.
Fact: Female black widow spiders lay about 300 to 400 eggs per cocoon.
This is where I draw the line. One black widow by the rain barrel is one thing - but 300 to 400 of her offspring hiding around my patio - no thank you.
I went to get a broom to get rid of the web and the egg sack.
Fact: Black Widow spider silk is one of the strongest spider silks in the world. They are researching using it to make bullet proof vests. 
Nevertheless, a few gentle swipes with the broom and the web and everything in it was knocked down.
I looked at the broom - no egg case. Oh no, did I just push it up into the siding?
I got my Swiffer Duster with the long handle that bends and wrapped a regular floor swiffer cloth around it with a rubber band and jabbed and swished all around the edge of the siding.
That's probably as clean as this area's ever been. But I still saw no egg sack. So it either fell into all that litter down on the ground behind the rain barrel and will hatch hundreds of little spiders, or it got shoved up into the siding further.  I don't know. 
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, the Black Widow Spider usually does not eat the male after mating. The spiderlings, when hatched, will eat each other. 
I got a can of Raid and throughly doused the whole area. Mini venomous cannibals are not desirable.
Ah, but what about the original black widow spider? Why didn't she appear to defend her nest? I was hoping it was like Charlotte's Web - that she laid her eggs and then died.
Fact: Black Widow spiders lay four cocoons a summer. They live 1 1/2 years.
So no, she didn't die (unless the Raid got her). She was just hiding somewhere. I am just hoping she didn't take her egg sack with her when I started attacking her web.
Fact: Black Widow Spiders are nocturnal hunters.
I went out in the dark and snapped this photo with my flash. I don't see any sign of her. But she's there. Somewhere. I'm going to have to be a lot more careful from now on. 
Fact: People rarely die from a Black Widow spider bite.
But one should seek immediate medical treatment if bitten. I think any spider bite that necessitates a trip to the ER at $100.00 minimum is to be avoided.

I'm linking this up to An Oregon Cottage for . Stop in and visit with gardeners from all over the country to see what's growing, including Jami's Romanesco Cauliflower. That's something I've never seen before.


  1. Where I grew up, black widows were more common than just about any other pest (except for rattlesnakes too, we had plenty of them). I will never forget helping my Mom move a filing cabinet in our den and having it dislodge a websack and yes, hundreds of teensy black widows running everywhere! Lots of stomping ensued.

    btw I LOVE your garden and I look forward to your updates every week!

  2. We love spiders too and enjoy many of them in our garden, but we do get concerned with the Black Widow because we are afraid that our dogs will get bit. That looked like a nice size one. If she is still there she will rebuild her web by the next day. Thank you for sharing, your post was informative and entertaining :)

  3. Kim, I hope I never find one in my house. There would be a lot more than stomping going on!
    Jacque, the web is still gone, so maybe out spider lady moved on? I hope so.
    Thanks to both of you for stopping by.

  4. What an informative post! We have them occasionally here, but pretty rare. And we kill them whenever we see them- we just don't want to take chances. :-)

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jami @ An Oregon Cottage

  5. Jami, if I had children living at home, I would have killed it too - apparently children and the elderly are the ones most in danger of having a bad reaction to the bite. Thanks for stopping by!