Garden spiders live about one year. They range in size and color but are typically black or brown with yellow and shiny silvery or white markings and large, spindly black or brown legs. Females have much showier markings than males. Male spiders’ bodies are much smaller, about a quarter inch to half inch compared to females that reach three-quarter of an inch to 1.25 inches. They emerge from teardrop-shaped egg sacks each spring as spiderlings. The tiny spiders disperse by ballooning or throwing a strand of silk into the air to catch the wind to other locations. Spiderlings feed on small insects and molt as they grow. By summer, males search for females, build a web nearby and begin trying to mate without being eaten. Once they mate, females construct an egg sack and lay around 500-1,500 eggs inside it. Females can produce multiple egg sacks depending on mating success. Eggs typically hatch out in late summer or fall, and spiderlings overwinter inside the sack. Garden spiders are predators of a wide range of insects. Adults capture annoying pest insects like moths, flies, stinkbugs, leaf-footed bugs, katydids and grasshoppers. However, they also feed on beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. Think twice when you see your beneficial eight-legged friends! They’re nature’s exterminators!

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