Spider boom? Hot summer might have helped webs they weave
Why 'all of a sudden' we start noticing spider webs outside this time of year
If you're suddenly seeing big fat spiders crafting delicate webs all over the place, you're not alone.
Spider webs are a normal harbinger of fall, but this year, a Vancouver pest control company said they're getting an unusual number of calls about them.
"Definitely an increase in the numbers of them and the amount of webs that people are seeing on their properties," said Mike Londry of Westside Pest Control.
He credits the hot, dry summer, saying it made living easy for spiders.
"This summer has given spiders an optimal opportunity."
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There's no official spider census — somehow, arachnids don't have an equivalent to the Christmas Bird Count.
But it is possible that hot weather made spider prey more abundant, said Claudia Copley, entomology collection manager at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria.
"They do like insects that are flying around, because that's who gets caught in those webs, and warm dry conditions can lead to higher numbers of insects flying around," Copley said.
"If insects are doing well then spiders can also do well."
'All of a sudden' you see them
To be clear, while webs become more noticeable outside in late August and early September, those orb-weaving spiders were around all summer long.
Life histories vary, but for many species the young spiderlings hatch — by the hundreds — from egg sacks in the spring.
"It does, even to me, feel a little bit creepy when I walk through one ... I just felt the web, now where exactly is the spider?" - Wayne Maddison, UBC professor
Even those wee spiders were weaving little orb webs, but this is the time of year they get big enough to catch our attention.
"As they get bigger, then they're able to build a web that spans a space," said Wayne Maddison, a UBC professor and Canada Research Chair in biodiversity.
"People notice them because they walk right through them."
One of the common orb weavers, the garden cross spider, is particularly conspicuous in urban areas right now, said Copley.
"All of a sudden, this big female that needs to produce eggs and really needs to feed well, she's got this big obvious web, because she's at the final stages of her life."
'Let 'em be'
If you do have a lot of webs outside your home, that doesn't mean you need to do anything about them, said Londry.
Even as the owner of a pest control company, he isn't concerned by spiders outside his house.
"I don't treat the spiders on my house ... it doesn't have to be done, I just let 'em be," said Londry, who is teaching his two-year old daughter to marvel at their creations.
Of course, walking through a web can bring "a tiny bit of ick," even for a dedicated arachnologist who otherwise enjoys the eight-legged weavers.
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"It does, even to me, feel a little bit creepy when I walk through one. I think okay, I just felt the web, now exactly where is the spider?" said Maddison.
"Because you know, it might be crawling just above my eye or something."
Copley encourages people to consider the important role spiders play, besides reminding us that fall is coming.
"They're capturing flying insects ... so flies and wasps, things that people in general don't like," she said.
"So if [people] can live with spiders, then they're basically benefitting from them."