Usually I leave spiders that are outside alone, knowing full well the benefit they are to my gardens. But on this day hundreds of newly hatched baby spiders were forming web masses all over my seedling trays. The baby spiders were thick all over those webs, like an army in waiting. Every time I turned around, I saw a new lattice being formed. Not only could I not pick up any of my trays, but it was not hard to envision the whole patio being a sticky blob soon.
At first, I couldn’t tell what they were because they were so tiny. I thought some strange creature had flown by and laid a bunch of eggs there. They hadn’t been there when I watered the seedling a couple of hours ago. I got a paper towel to wipe them up. When my motion touched their web, they began to move everywhere, and FAST. Still, it wasn’t like they dispersed the mass. It was more like they multiplied in a weird alien sort of way. It was creepy. (click on any photo to enlarge)
Now, I noticed that they weren’t just in the one spot I had seen first. They were everywhere I looked. They might as well of been taking over the world. When I got up enough courage to look more closely at them, I noticed they were a yellow variety. I hate yellow spiders. I called my husband to grab his reading glasses and come see “what I had found.” He confirmed they were spiders and seemed entertained by my predicament.
To be fair, he had just drowned a skunk for me, so it’s not like he hadn’t been helpful. The skunk had been in a live trap, stomping it’s feet at him, but the day before, my husband had managed to cover it with a black plastic bag, hoping it would suffocate. Somehow it had clawed holes in the bag instead, so this following day, he had filled a barrel with water and submersed it. I was grateful, because I’ve had my fill of killing skunks by myself.
When I could see that it seemed to be expected that I problem solve the baby spider situation myself, I started talking to myself. Out loud. Because this is what I do. Amazingly, within about 2 minutes I knew what to do! I had a whole roll of double sided sticky tape in the greenhouse! I just needed a stick to wind it around. My husband was still watching and listening, and he suggested the long iris stems that had just been trimmed because of spent flowers. I choose the sturdiest looking one and went into the greenhouse.
The sticky tape didn’t stick that well to the iris flowers that were kind of mushy on the stem, but it stuck to itself, so I was able to create my magic sticky wand. The tape was sticking to the roll well enough that it pulled on the iris stem and broke part of it, so a wide flat stick of some sort would definitely be better. But, I had come this far, and there was something special about using a sticky iris flower to deal with “my” baby spiders.
The iris also lacked stability when it came to holding it up against the web, but I was relieved to see that it was catching the spiders. After I had trapped the largest mass of baby spiders I could see, I moved my magic wand gently between the leaves of my seedlings. The more I looked, the more I saw the little buggers everywhere.
I know I’m saying “everywhere” a lot. That’s because they were EVERYWHERE I looked! I saw some that were forming webs from the picnic table to the roof line, some that were under the picnic table. In fact, I found about three more large multitudes of them under the table and benches. I did a little dance around the picnic table and waved the wand in the air around me.
Some baby spiders got away. That is the nature of things. And I keep feeling little tickles on me 4 hours later while I sit in the house, even if I don’t see them now. At least one of them will probably survive to maturity and lay eggs. I will still check all of my pots for spider egg sacks, like I do every spring, but I might miss one, like I apparently did this year. So I think I will keep a roll of double sided sticky tape around so I can do a magic dance around the patio if necessary.