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Triangulate Cobweb Spiders Are Our Friends

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

OR My Rake Is a Now a Spider Habitat. My rake is used so often that when I recently went to take it out of my gardening storage area it was covered in cobwebs. The rake also looked like it had multiple tiny delicate cotton balls attached to it. On closer inspection I could see a mother spider guarding her egg sacs.

When I looked closely at my rake, I saw a tiny spider with a triangle design on her body guarding her egg sacs

The spider was unique because it had a shiny bubble body and looked a little like a brown widow spider, but it didn’t have the distinctive hourglass markings underneath. It also had a striking triangle shaped design. Turns out the spider is a common household spider in Georgia called the triangulate cobweb spider (steatoda triangulosa). It is in the same family as the widows, but not poisonous. Phew!

My photographic skills are limited and can only give a glimpse into the luminescent body of the triangulate cobweb spider and her ethereal egg sacs

My grandmother who I lived with as a little girl was a gardener and had a special affection for spiders. I was terrified of spiders, yet she never killed any that she found in the house because she said it was bad luck. She just brought them outside. If they spun webs on the porch, she let them be. I know now that the more practical reason she didn’t kill spiders is because they eat such a broad range of undesirable household insects. The triangulate cobweb spider for example preys on flies, cockroaches, wasps, ants, pill bugs, earwigs, ticks, stink bugs, and other venomous spiders such as the hobo and brown recluse.

It looks like a leg is all that's left of an insect that got too close to this triangulate cobweb spider's egg sac! You can see the 30 or so tiny spider eggs in the sac she's protecting.

Triangulate cobweb spiders are a member of the large family of theridiidae or tangle-web spiders. They spin irregular, messy and wispy webs in dark corners in or around undisturbed places people exist such houses, outbuilding, garages, and basements. The triangulate cobweb spider is not truly native to North America and was thought to be brought here from Europe during colonization over 400 years ago. At this point in time, I've accepted it as part of the ecosystem of my yard.

Not exactly Charlotte's web, but beauty can still be found in the triangulate cobweb spider's wispy webbing

The reason my rake is a triangulate cobweb spider habitat is because I leave the leaves in my yard for wildlife and use a push broom to clear off hard surfaces such as sidewalks. I thought the rake might make it easier to clear leaves off a slate path. After learning about the beneficial little habitat in my gardening storage area I decided instead to use a smaller broom to clear off each piece of slate!

Once I realized my fancy Joseph Bentley rake was a habitat for a mother triangulate cobweb spider who was guarding her egg sacs, I put it back with the other unused garden tools

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