You don't have to be a gardener to encounter big spiders this time of year, because they're everywhere you look, including inside your house. Your bathtub may seem to be a favorite hangout, but more likely your tub's surface is so slick that spiders who venture in cannot get out.
We acknowledge that the spiders in the shower scene from Arachnophobia appear to climb out of the tub and up the shower curtain, but those were not your average spiders. The movie star arachnids were a large yet gentle species from New Zealand.
It's okay to kill spiders that come into your house. Most are wandering males whose days are numbered anyway. Or, you can catch and release them. Cover the spider with a jar, slip a stout piece of paper or card under the opening, and head for the door. If you are one of the millions of people who panic over indoor spiders, you may want to look into a special vacuum just for bugs. Better yet, get your kid a Turbo Bug Vacuum and let them do the dirty work.
As for those big orb-weaving spiders on your deck, don't be too quick to sweep them away. One of the reasons why black-and-yellow writing spiders (above left) prefer porches is that they offer shelter for the tough cocoons. Eggs hatch in late fall (at about the time the mother dies), but remain in the cocoon until spring.
Don't worry that allowing common web-weavers like the yellow jacket-eating marbled orb weaver (at right) hang out beneath your eaves now will lead to spider overload in the spring. More likely, the spiderlings will throw out a bit of web that works like an air balloon, providing a lofty ride to better habitat, like your garden. Carnivorous to the core, spiders eat countless pest insects.
Photos by Barbara Pleasant