Scary spiders, pest predators or both!
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November 19, 2011 — Many people fear spiders, but almost all of America's arachnids are harmless predators of pest insects. Mike McGrath discusses the lone exception to that rule. Plus your fabulous phone calls.
About a month ago I found a large black widow spider under the rim of a pot in which I grow my sage. I have never seen one so big! She escaped into the surrounding shrubs, and we didn't weed that area for weeks, hoping that a bird would feast on her while we kept an eye out for a return of her signature web. My husband finally did the weeding, and thankfully he was not bitten. But then I saw another black widow—a smaller one—on a nearby tomato pot. This area is out back, right up against a tobacco field. I suspect that the spiders may have been driven from the field by the pesticides the farmer used this year on the tobacco. (We never found black widows in our back yard before!) I plan to succumb to the temptation to use poison. I’m even willing to sacrifice my edible plants if necessary. Should we call an exterminator? Use household bug spray? Please advise. Our children play in the yard, and we are concerned that someone could get seriously hurt! Get the answer »