Spider_DBG_LAH_7406Q: I’ve heard about using ladybugs to eat the bad bugs in my garden. Do they work?

A: If we set a thief to catch a thief, then why not set a bug to eat a bug? Sometimes the best way to control an outbreak of an insect pest is to use another insect, or a close relative (such as spiders). Ladybugs, the most famous of these insect killers, are wimps compared to some of the other predatory critters in your garden. Lacewing larvae, ground beetles, praying mantises, wasps, hover flies, spiders… there are plenty of beasties who are more than happy to keep garden pests under control.


cat-faced_spider2.jpgQ: I have this huge orange spider in my garden by my garage! It makes a really large, intricate web. Is this a “good guy” or should I try to get rid of it?

A: This is the perfect time of year to see some of our most impressive garden spiders. In fact, while sitting on my deck a few weeks ago, I noticed a nicely crafted large spider’s web catching the light in my bed of Rudbeckia hirta and Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican sunflowers). Then I noticed that a small leaf had gotten caught in it. I decided to help out with maintenance by removing the leaf. When I got close to the web, I realized “That’s not a leaf! That’s the spider!” This spider was much bigger than the ones I notice running around the house, about the size of a quarter overall. And it was orange and chunky, which sounds like the spider you are describing. After a little research, I figured out we had a cat-face spider living in our garden. (more…)