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Pictures of spiders are starting to decorate my Facebook posts with comments like “gross” or “squish it.”

I try to be the bigger person and give these innocent creatures a name in hopes of endearing them to their audience rather than causing fear. (I secretly want to put up the "anger" emoji and say, “Hey what has that spider ever done to you except make your life better.”) Are you ready to start putting these mystical creatures in perspective?

  • Spiders feed on more annoying insects like roaches, flies, mosquitoes and earwigs
  • Along with the bees, if spiders disappeared we would face famine as they will eat our crop pests
  • Spider venom is the base of some very exciting research in the medical field
  • Spider silk is the strongest material found on earth inspiring engineers
  • Most spiders are shy and avoid humans
  • Almost all are venomous - though the majority of species have venom too weak to cause issues in humans, if their fangs can pierce our skin at all. It is rare to encounter a spider that may actually hurt you.
  • Most unexplained skin irritations that appear overnight are blamed on spider bites. However, you may get a couple visits a year by spiders if you are sleeping on the basement floor; if they visit, it would be extremely rare that they bite as they are not bloodsuckers
  • Most likely they are living in your home right now and not aware of your existence
  • The best reason to love them is they are garden warriors also known as the good guys in the garden.

Here are some spiders creeping up on Facebook:

Marbled Orb weaver is a bright yellow beauty with black markings on its abdomen and orange on its head and legs. Their webs are found in trees, shrubs and weeds in a wet woodland setting. Because it is an orb weaver, it creates the stereotypical oval spider web but hides in a folded-up leaf closed by silk or in a mass of dead leaves next to a signal ”thread” awaiting prey. They construct these visual masterpieces daily and usually under an hour.

The cutest of all spiders is the jumping spider. It is small but stout and has great big eyes and the ability to jump four times' its body length. They are active during the day. They do have great eyesight so they may be aware you are spying on them. They do not build webs, only silken retreats. They wave their little legs in the air, almost dancing, to attract mates. I have picked one up before and only received a little pinch before letting it go. Both the Marbled Orb weaver and jumping spider have a wide range of insects they will eat.

If you would like to read about the wolf spider and black and yellow garden spider, please visit my blog, at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/.

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Kelly Allsup is the University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator in Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties.

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