Spiders in TheGardenLady’s garden

When visiting me this past weekend, my children were excited to see a huge yellow and black spider in my garden. My daughter took the above photograph of the spider.

I have noticed what seems to be a larger than usual number of spiders in my garden. I didn’t know if I were imagining this but learned that because of the earlier hot weather this year, which had the flowers bloom about 3 weeks early, spiders are also in the garden earlier. They are out and about a month earlier this year.

The beautiful, huge yellow and black spider in my garden is an Argiope aurantia spider.  This is a beneficial spider that catches such insects as the Asian tiger mosquito, the eastern yellow jacket, the carpenter ant and the Virginia Pine sawfly in its orb web. Unfortunately even beneficials, like the garter snake, do not discriminate between the bad and the good. The garter snake eats some good guys in the garden like the toads and the argiope spider also eats some good or beneficial insects. But the beneficial work it does outweighs the bad, so we have to protect these beneficial insects and beneficial snakes.   For more on the argiope spider read this.

The Argiope spider is said to like tall plants and this Argiope spider built its nest on a Verbena bonariensis in my garden. The common name for verbena bonariensis is tall or purpletop vervain. Verbena bonariensis flowers attract lots of butterflies and bees. So it is no wonder that the Argiope put its web there; the plant serves up a buffet of argiope spider treats. But this Argiope spider, too, is vulnerable because the verbena attracts birds that prey on the spiders.

Hummingbird Moth by photofarmer

The verbena bonariensis (see photo of hummingbid on a verbena bonariensis) that is happily growing in my garden must have come to my garden in the pot with another plant. I never planted it. It is a perennial in zones 7 through 10. Since global warming seems to have made every plant hardiness zones rise, my garden is now said to be in plant hardiness zone 7a. The verbena bonariensis has liked the area that it is growing in and has spread quite a bit- it also tolerates the drought we have had this summer. I worried that this verbena might become an invasive in my area as it has in some parts of the country  If you decide you would like to plant it to attract bees, butterflies and even birds, check first to see if verbena bonariensis has become invasive in your area.

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