Saturday, April 28, 2012
(DF) SPIDERS IN THE GARDEN ....natural pest control at it's finest
As you may have noticed from other posts, I REALLY don't like pesticides. There are many reasons for my thoughts and feelings on this subject, but a deep appreciation of bugs eating my garden is certainly not one of them. In fact, I find few things more disappointing than going to the garden and finding my beautiful veggies chewed up by bugs. With that said, bugs are still more welcome than poison. I will go deeper into my reasons in a future post, but for now, please trust that there are serious reasons.
With the consideration of catching and smashing each and every one of the nasty little creatures by hand being less than practical, if not totally impossible, some help is needed. This is where the spiders come in. Yes, I did say SPIDERS. Spiders are wonderful creatures, which, with few exceptions, are harmless to humans. They do, however, spend their lives eating relative large numbers of insects ....... insects that are not necessarily welcome guests in the garden. Granted, spiders can't eat all the bugs that come into the garden, and they do also eat some of the beneficial insects that we would like to see more of. When you consider that pesticides don't quite kill all the bad bugs and the good ones are generally more susceptible to toxins than the pests, the spiders are certainly no worse.
Pesticides have not been used in my garden since long before I bought the place, and in the absence of toxins, bugs thrived. At least they thrived at first. With an ample food source, spiders soon began to come into the area. These spiders are among a group known as wolf spiders because of their behavior of stalking their prey rather than trapping it in a web (they are also known as grass spiders). After a few years without toxins and with the presence of plenty of food, the population of a couple of the smaller species of these spiders exploded. As a direct result, the population of insects in the garden dropped.
The spiders in question come in several sizes ranging from a leg span of smaller than a dime to larger than the average tarantula and with a bit of color variation. Most of the ones in my garden are small, the size of a dime or slightly larger and light colored (as shown in the picture above), though some are the darker variety. They are seldom seen and are in fact a little hard to find during the day, but at night they are out in force. To shine a bright flashlight on my garden at night reveals many pinpoints of light reflected from their eyes, showing that the night crew are on the job, taking care of the unwanted pests.
Thanks to these hungry predators, a garden at Daves farm is possible, and without killing off all the other creatures that are more welcome (or better yet, important to production). Unlike pesticides, they don't kill off all the pollinators such as bees. As evidenced by the other two pics, they also leave some of the other beneficial insects and small creatures in the garden (though you can't tell from this pic, the turtle is a baby, only the size of a quarter). As an added bonus, they are entertaining to watch, if you are morbidly fascinated by predator/prey relationships. Alright, I know that I am easily amused but it saves money on movie rental.
Yes, there will be more bugs in the garden without pesticides, but I personally believe it is worth the difference in light of the dangers of pesticides. I will go into the dangers of pesticides to humans and the environment soon, in a future post, but for now, please be kind to the spiders. They are our garden friends.