Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 64

SINGING IN THE GARDEN

Nothing in Common
with Miss Muffet

Where is the object that
does not become beautiful
when seen through the lens
of intelligent inquiry?
-Octavius Pickard

Text and art by GINNY NEIL

L

ittle Miss Muffet may scream and
run away at the sight of a spider,
but I smile when I find one hanging around in my garden. Some,
like the yellow garden spider, are
easy to spot, but others require some
peering, poking and prodding. Researchers speculate that there is almost always a spider within 10 feet
of us at any given time. In a garden, that's good news
because they surpass birds in their insect consumption,
making them essential for any organic endeavors.
This time of year, I often spot the tell-tale wheel and
spoke webs of yellow garden spiders hanging between
tomato stakes or zinnia stalks. Spider webs are the most
amazing material. They are stronger than Kevlar when
compared by weight, and the common garden spider
can produce up to seven different kinds including silk

64

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that is resistant to bacteria.
In addition to the orb webs, my garden also hosts funnel webs spun by trap
door spiders and sheet webs spun by bowl
and doily Spiders. There are also a bunch
of spiders scuttling around that don't use webs
for catching supper. My favorite of these is the crab spider. This little trickster is about the same size, legs outspread, as the eraser on the end of your pencil and is
hard to spot because it hides out in flowers and cabbages-changing color to match. Crab spiders capture and
eat cabbage moths but will also dine on aphids, mites
and other tiny sap-suckers which makes them important
predators in my garden.
Another non-web-spinner, the wolf spider, earns a
living on the ground. Aptly named, this eight-legged
hunter uses speed to capture crickets, grasshoppers, ear-


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 3
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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover4
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