My mother’s family is spread out so that my cousins and their families live from coast-to-coast. While her parents lived next door to us so my relationship with my grandparents was extremely close, I wonder if I might walk past, not recognizing, one of my cousins if I ran into them on the street.
It’s why I love Facebook so much. While it’s hardly a “want to get together this weekend for pizza” sort of relationship, but at least now I have a glimpse at the lives of some of my closest relatives. It’s so wonderful that they are healthy, happy and have great kids. I’m proud of that so many are involved in the arts and support their communities.
It’s also interesting to see unique aspects of living in different parts of the country. Last summer one cousin posted photographs of the ugliest, hairiest, biggest spider I have ever seen. Later this same relative from North Carolina posted a list of poisonous spiders, how to identify them, and what to do if bitten.
I may complain (or maybe it’s bragging) about the excessive wind chill in Wisconsin that last winter bottomed out at 40 below or the eight foot drifts of snow, but the blessing of our frigid temperatures is that lots of spiders and bugs can’t survive our extreme weather.
While Wisconsin has spiders, most are garden-friendly and helpful in terms of eating pests that eat plants.
All spiders are predators, in fact it is arguable that spiders maybe the most abundant predators on a wide range of plant material in any home landscape. They consume far more insects in the yard than birds or bats.
Spiders eat aphids, armyworm, leafhoppers, flea-hoppers, leaf-miners and spider mites. They attack the spruce budworm, pine sawfly, sorghum midge and tobacco budworm. Gourmet treats for spiders are caterpillars, thrips, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, scarabs and flies. The aphid, leaf fly and leafhoppers are three species that will actually flee an area where spiders are present.
Some common spiders in the home landscape include the wolf, garden, crab, jumping and funnel-web spiders. While all inject victims with venom that kills or paralyzes the victim, only brown recluse and black widow spiders are poisonous to humans in the upper Midwest (and both are still fairly rare in Wisconsin).
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like spiders in my house, crawling on my skin or running into webs with my face. But I do count your blessings and welcome spiders into my garden.