Spider whisperers

Started by Mikent, September 23, 2023, 03:27:36 PM

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I'm having some issues with Grass Spiders (aka Funnel-Web Spiders or Carpet Spiders). I live on a lake (Finger Lakes in Western New York State). High humidity levels lead to lots of bugs. Lots of bugs leads to lots of spiders.

My collection of plants (largely Amaryllids) are in pots. They Winter in the basement, and then are mostly spread out along the top of the breakwall for the Summer. For the last six or seven years, I've has Grass Spiders colonizing most of the plants that are in the full sun. The 'carpet' of their webs gets so thick that I'm worried the plants aren't getting enough sun, although none have been killed off by the spiders yet (can't say the same for the squirrels).

I usually end up removing the web-carpet daily, which can be a major pain. Most of the carpets do reach the three foot maximum coverage (per my web research) by mid-July. Is there some herb or something I can grow, or sprinkle on the plants, to repel the spiders? I'm not interested in killing them, I want them eating as many bugs as they can. I just don't want them constantly burying my plants in webs.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can render.


Spider repellant? I doubt that there is such a thing. If there was, somebody would have made a very large fortune from selling it, given the number of people that are spider-dislikers, and worse.................

The optical denisty of the webs is probably not great, despite what you see, as defraction makes the webs look white, rather being close to transparent, which they are.

In good weather, your natural light levels may well be far in excess of what plants need, so loss from "shading" by the webs may well be irrelevant.

The healthy human eye can see perfectly well between something like 10 lux and well over 100,000 lux because we have an iris, so what we "see" in our brains, after processing by our software and our irises, is a long way from how the world really is.

If curious enough, buy a cheap lux meter - $20-30 - and experiment.

David Pilling

spider repellent... things like ticks and chiggers are spiders, and things like deet are repellents for them.

I'd like to see pictures of Mike's webs.

There are plants that grow their own cobwebs - Sempervivum arachnoideum - it is supposed they do this to protect themselves against insects. Here is a blog about them:


"Red spider mite repellents
Marjoram and thyme often stay small enough to be planted together with other plants in an indoor pot.
For rosemary, peppermint, chamomile and lemongrass, it's the opposite. Give each a pot of its own and place it near houseplants you want to protect."

Steve Marak

Quote from: David Pilling on September 24, 2023, 10:01:36 AMspider repellent... things like ticks and chiggers are spiders, and things like deet are repellents for them.
Or if not repel them, at least leave them confused:




A catalog that shows up in the mail regularly, called "Whatever Works," advertises spider repellent. It has a website and many things that you suddenly realize you have wished existed. I haven't bought any repellent, but I lately did buy some window-screen repair tape, a mesh on a roll, that I think will be good for the bottom of band pots.

David Pilling


@David Pilling

I can't do pictures for this year. The colder temperatures earlier this month killed off the spiders - at least the grass spiders, still plenty of normal spider webs around.

If you want to see funnel weaver or grass spider webs, there are plenty of photos online. Just make sure you enter the name as funnel weaver spider, not funnel-web spider. The funnel-web spider is an Aussie denizen, not US. If you see pictures of a large black spider with a sac-like rear end, that's the funnel-web. Funnel weavers are narrow, with brown and tan coloration. There's a stripe down the center of the carapace.

One of the few websites I've found that shows clusters of the webs instead of a closeup of one web is here: https://sidewalknature.com/2016/08/15/funnel-spiders/

The spiders I'm dealing with have somewhat thicker webs. Don't know if that's due to being a related species to pictured spiders' webs (Tennessee is 450ish miles South of me (well, SW)), being right above the beach, and therefore breezier, or something else. Most the webs I see are opaque where you can only see vague shadows of foliage (or whatever) underneath the web. In the first picture on the site, you can see one leaf of what looks like lily-of-the-valley sticking up out of the web. That's typical of the funnel weaver webs - the entire web is horizontal, anything vertical will have the web built around it (and usually anchored to it). If the web is left alone, they will add layers to it daily, until it become more like a piece of fabric (silkish) (where I presume the other common name of carpet spider came from). Their everyday webs are thick enough that if a breeze comes along, the entire web, or at least a section thereof, will flap in the breeze, but remain anchored in place.


Judy Glattstein

Interesting! We see these webs on the lawn for a brief period in late summer. Have always referred to them as "handkerchief spiderwebs." Now I know more.