{helpful little critters : along came a spider}

Friendly little critter & his miniature 'fairy-light' decorations!
We all have fears in life, surely there is something that scares us all, even if just a little. Fortunately for me I don't come across my fears too often when I'm gardening, as long as you don't ask me to go too high up the ladder and it's not snake season! The fear of heights I blame on genetics. My father for all his mucho-manliness has a gripping fear of heights he seemed to pass on. Whilst my fear of snakes is very much an attribute of growing up on a farm where we had King Brown and Red-Belly Black snakes slither through our yard, up on our verandah and even up to our front door regularly during summer - my mother is yet again my hero in this field, but more on that another time...

It was my Mum who instilled in me to respect spiders and their work in the garden. We were taught never to kill, just leave well alone, especially Tarantulas who indicated rain when they graced us with their presence! Perhaps for this reason then, I don't have an issue with the eight-legged critters who have become my 'outdoor pets'. We have a mutual understanding - they keep out of my way and I let them eat for free! 

I recently met a client who up until the time his father-in-law sprayed for spiders in the garden hadn't had a pest problem. Since he lost his St. Andrews Cross and Orb spiders he had an infestation of bronze-orange bug (stink bugs) on his citrus, something he has not experienced prior. Perhaps a coincidence?

Spider McMansion keeping watch above my shed door
We have a number of St. Andrews Cross and Orb spiders who call our backyard 'Home' and whilst my husband isn't as pleased as I am to have them around, they really are helpful little critters to have around the garden with their webs acting as nets catching moths and bugs wishing to lay their eggs on my poor unsuspecting plants. I'm never too pleased if they catch butterflies or bees though, but that is nature I guess, and what goes around comes around, as sometimes they end up on the dinner menu, providing food for the birds I'm trying to attract into the garden.

St Andrews Cross and Orb spiders are generally not aggressive by nature and tend to be more fearful of us. I let them weave their webs wherever they like, as long as they are not in my direct path - I believe nature knows best so I let her have the first say. From time to time I need to knock away at one resident's web, when his modest abode becomes a bit more like a McMansion over the entrance to my shed!

Not all spiders are as 'friendly' as these two so it's a good idea to have an identification sheet handy in case you are bitten.

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