Adventures of the Yellow School Bus | "Garden Spiders" | Text and Photos by Candice Granger

Lena Marie is "in the field" identifying the different spiders using our 
handy-dandy spider pamphlet. They have these at HEB 
right by the checkout. They tell you the name of the spider, 
if it is venomous and where it lives! Good information!
The spider.

I read somewhere that 1 in 4 Americans have some sort of spider phobia.  I get it.  They are quiet, creepy crawlies that can sneak up and bite ya.  EEEK.  Just thinking about a spider on me makes me shiver and I love spiders. 

Quick story:  When we first bought our place in the country Jim Bob, my husband, and I would walk through the pasture, listening to the birds and chatting about how fun it will be to live off the land and thinking grand ideas of the life that lay ahead for us.  Romantic, I know. But suddenly that day, those thoughts were banished from my mind and I could only think one thought as we were out in the field:  I will sure miss this man.

I should have calmly said, "Hey sweetheart, you have a spider on ya…let me get that off."  Did I say that?  Noooo.  What did I say?  Nothing.  I just watched a mega, huge, enormous spider crawl up the back of my husband's shirt and onto his neck.  I remember gulping, like one of those big gulps that barely fit down your throat, and trying to yell but nothing would come out.  Of course, when the spider made it to his neck he felt a little tickle, smacked at it and then realized it was not a tiny insect but instead a spider and not just a spider but the BIGGEST spider that we had ever seen.

The Yellow and Black Garden Spider
He then started to jump, squeal (like a school girl), and immediately tried to remove his shirt.  All I could do was stare and try not to laugh!  As soon as he started hopping around like a wild monkey, the spider dropped down to the ground and found his safe spot leaving Jim Bob panting.  We both looked at each other like what the heck was that?  We lived in west Texas and had never seen spiders like that.  We questioned our decision to move to a place where the spiders could grow that large!  Why are they so big?  Were they feeding off the livestock out here?  It was nuts.  I had some research to do!

Now that we have lived out here for some years, we live happily amongst the Garden Spiders! We are very careful about walking through the pasture at this time of year and I will never forget that image of the huge garden spider on Jim Bob's neck, ev-er (or those dance moves he busted trying to get that spider off!)

The female spider will often place her egg sac close by
so she can protect it against predators for as long as she can.

Garden spiders will make their webs any and everywhere. One spider made her web right by our window which was perfect for watching her build her amazing circular web. The kids and I would lay on the bed and watch her use her feet and her silk to make that distinctive zig-zag pattern. One day, we saw new little spiders in the web. They looked like little silver baby spiders but that couldn't be…not this time of year and not silver! The garden spider didn't seem to care that they were hanging out in her web either. Super weird. I had to know what they were!

Dew Drop Spiders. They get their name because they look like shiny drops of dew on the web. After doing some reading, it sounds like the dew drop spider is like the vulture of the spider world - opportunistic. It would rather not build its own web but instead live on a bigger spider's web feeding off of what the host spider doesn't eat and sometimes cleaning up the spider's leftovers. Maybe that's why the garden spiders don't mind it hanging around…it's like a helpful friend that is happy to eat what you cook and will do the dishes! I like these little guys! So next time you see a garden spider's web, look closer and see if your garden spider has company.

This is an up-close picture of a dew drop spider.
I took it out of the web and put it on this log to get a good photo of it.
It is really a pretty!  It has built in bling!

This is a Garden Spider with two egg sacs already.
Do you see those tiny specs all in the web?
Those are Dew Drop Spiders!
They shine just like a drop of dew.

Fun Facts about Garden Spiders:
  • The zig-zag pattern in a garden spider's web is called a stabilimentum. Scientists are not sure why they make this pattern. Could it be to help birds see the web and not fly through it? I think it is because they are so stinkin' huge they need extra support! 
  • Only garden spiders that are active during the day make a stabilmentum. 
  • Garden spiders have an extra claw on their legs to help them spin their complex circular webs. 
  • The garden spider will bounce the web back and forth to help tangle their prey up in their web. Those poor grasshoppers don't have a chance. 
  • A female garden spider can lay over a 1,000 eggs in her egg sac. She can have 1 to 4 egg sacs a season. That is a lot of spiders!

Lena Marie is "in the field" identifying the different spiders using our
handy-dandy spider pamphlet.  They have these at HEB right by the checkout.
They tell you the name of the spider, if it is venomous and where it lives!  Good information!

Candice Granger and her super cute brood call home (and art studio!) to a 16+ acre homestead in Gonzales County. They live in a converted yellow school bus with a large cast of furry characters including sheep, goats, chickens and 1 sassy donkey named Choncho. Candice focuses her many talents towards 'healthy and homemade.' Candice is an artist, home-schooling teacher & mother, and partner to her potter husband Jim Bob.

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