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Strung Up in Webs

Arachnids are out in numbers this time of year

Almost overnight, the way it happens in Sci-Fi movies, spiders have invaded. Webs are spun under the porch light, draped from the mailbox and suspended like chandeliers from every shrub and tree. Walk out and you walk into one.
    The arachnid explosion that ripples across Chesapeake Country in late summer and early fall is what happens when the spiderlings we saw on their mommas’ backs last spring grow up.
    In spring, spiders’ tiny webs were tucked deep in the bushes where the spiderlings fattened on bugs. Now, they’re reaching full-grown adulthood and venturing forth.
    There aren’t more spiders, just bigger spiders.
    Bigger spiders need more space for their webs, so they’re building in open places — where people run into them face-first.
    They’re gearing up for mating season in early-fall.
    Males are searching for females. When they get together, they’re mating. Females are producing egg sacs and hanging them in protected places where they will overwinter to reestablish the spider population next spring.
    The intricate webs help their makers catch and eat large numbers of insects that would otherwise bother us. Spiders are also indicators of the environment’s health. If we use too many pesticides, the number of spiders will go down.
    Model citizens, spiders are excellent recyclers. Most eat their webs daily, reusing the silk to build new webs, works of art and entrapment they can construct in as little as 30 minutes.
    Webs, too, come in many forms — sheet webs, funnel webs and irregular webs — depending on the species of spider. The spirals of concentric circles that decorate our fall landscape are spun by orb-weavers.