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Ask The Entomologist Question About Spiders

Home / Expert Advice / Ask The Entomologist Question About Spiders

Question:

I was wondering if there was a powder or treatment for large garden spiders in my back yard. The problem was that we have outdoor pets, two rabbits and a dog. I am extremely scared of spiders and my mother doesnt want them near the rabbits. My father said using DE a past solution to our slug problem. I wanted an expert opinion. P.s. we also have moles and gardens.

Answer:

Many people are afraid of spiders but it is unfounded.  Spiders get a bad reputation because of movies and the media, but really they are just misunderstood.  While there are a small number of species that can harm humans, the vast majority are quite beneficial.  They consume many insects and other arthropods that can potentially cause much more harm to you than the spiders can.  This is especially true for the large garden spiders you are seeing.  These are called orb weavers and they construct large webs where they sit and wait for prey to become entangled.  Much of their prey consists of garden pests that feed on and harm plants and crops.  These spiders are not aggressive, they do not wander about looking for something to bite.  In fact, you would pretty much have to grab one in your hands in order to get it to bite you, and while the bite itself may hurt its venom is not very toxic to humans or other mammals.  Your outdoor pets are in no danger of getting hurt or killed by them.  The spiders are more in danger of getting eaten by the pets!  And no, if the dog eats a spider it’s not going to hurt the dog (the rabbits will just ignore them).  I don’t think DE would have much effect on spiders other than reducing the number of insect prey for them.  There are certain insecticides available at the store that are labeled for spraying plants in the yard.  Most of these are designed to control certain insect pests but would also kill spiders that come in contact with them.  However, I personally wouldn’t recommend spraying chemicals around your yard just to try and control garden spiders.  Your pets would be more effected by the pesticides than the spiders.

PS:  Check with your local wildlife control expert on how to control moles.  States have different rules and regulations on what is allowed.