3 Pacific Northwest Spiders That Are Beneficial For Your Garden

Posted on: 27 January 2015

As springtime arrives, you may start to see hordes of baby spiders coming out of their eggs. Luckily, in the Pacific Northwest, there is only one potentially harmful type of spider out of nearly 800 species: the Hobo Spider. Beyond that, the local spiders range from perfectly harmless to potentially beneficial, especially throughout the garden. If you can refrain from squishing the spiders you see outdoors, they may return the favor by protecting your plants from hungry caterpillars, aphids and ants. Here are three native spiders to welcome into your garden with open arms.

Wolf Spider

There is no doubt about it, wolf spiders are big, ugly and look incredibly menacing. Despite that, these spiders are neither aggressive nor harmful to humans or pets. In fact, wolf spiders quickly go running for cover upon spotting a large animal or person lurking nearby. Since they are incredibly fast, you may rarely spot them in your vicinity.

Wolf spiders like to make their home in tall grass near the garden, which acts as their frequent hunting grounds. These spiders do not spin a web, they simply lie in wait and ambush their prey as it wiggles or scurries by. Wolf spiders will eat nearly any insect that is big enough to provide a full belly, including caterpillars, aphids, moth larva, beetles, termites and grasshoppers.

Cross Spider

Cross spiders are Pacific Northwest natives from the orb weaver family, which consists of 3,000 unique species. These spiders create those expansive webs you may have walked face first into at some point in your life. Those webs are as beneficial as they are annoying, or distressing—depending on how fearful you are of these critters.

The stickiness of the web plays into this spider's amazing ability to catch bugs as small as fruit flies or as large as crane flies. You can encourage these spiders to maintain their placement in the garden, rather than across your doorway, by doing your best to protect their web integrity while you are working nearby.  

Zebra Jumper

The Zebra Jumper roams around gardens in search of tasty aphids, larva and ants hiding in the soil. Despite its surprising leaps out of its hiding space, this spider will not cause you any harm, even when held in the palm of your hand. Although jumping spiders are quite small at under 1/2 inch in length, they can capture bugs three times that size. This ability makes these spiders a formidable protector of your garden space.

You can encourage the zebra jumpers to stick around by digging carefully in the soil while removing weeds or planting your yearly crops. Watch for the spiders and carefully set them to the side if they do not scurry away on their own.

Keeping Them Outside

Despite your mutual agreement outdoors, it is completely understandable if you state that all bets are off once these critters creep inside the house. If you just find one or two spiders inside, try to gently guide them back through the front door using the end of your broom or mop head.

If you start to find spiders lurking around in droves, however, you may want to suspect the presence of other bugs in the house. After all, spiders follow their food source, even if that means living indoors. You can have the spiders, and their food, removed by a local pest control company like Greenleaf Organic Pest Management. Pest control experts will closely inspect your premises to identify the extent of the insect problem and find an appropriate treatment method. You may need your home treated two to three times before all of the bugs are removed.