Friday, May 24, 2013

Itsy bitsy spider, beat it

I have absolutely nothing against itsy bitsy spider and its friends and relatives. Spiders neither repel me nor do they elicit high-pitched shrieks when I come across them (well, if a large one landed on my face in the middle of the night, things might be different). Figuring they will eat pests such as mosquitoes, I tolerate them even in the house, as evidenced by the presence of spider webs in the kitchen and elsewhere.

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One of my succulent tables

However, I positively hate it when they spin their sticky web in the middle of and across my plants. OK, on day 1 it might look cool, but on day 2 or 3 the web is full of tiny insects, and soon the scene looks like a miniature version of Sleeping Beauty’s castle after 100 years. Take a look at the photos in this post and you’ll see what I mean.

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Agave ‘Snow Glow’

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Dyckia fosteriana hybrid

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Dyckia ‘Burgundy Ice’

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Agave ‘Monterrey Frost’

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Agave mitis

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Agave chrysoglossa

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

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Echinopsis huascha

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Aloe striata seeds

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Tephrocactus articulatus

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Agave ‘Cornelius’

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Agave ‘Cornelius’

I honestly don’t know if anything can be done to remedy the situation. I don’t want to kill the spiders so I won’t use noxious chemicals. Is there a spider version of a sonar device that might shoo them off? Or is this simply a fact of life I need to put up with?

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Even the furniture isn’t safe

It seems that in the last few years the spider population around our house has exploded. I don’t remember ever seeing as many spiders—or spider webs—as I have since 2010. I wouldn’t care so much if I didn’t collect succulents, but spider webs on agaves or cacti really are an ugly sight.

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I finally managed to photograph two of the culprits (on Agave ‘Snow Glow’)

12 comments:

  1. A few of those pictures look like spider mite webs, Gerhard. You might want to check out google images "spider mite webs". They are one of the worst pests I have to deal with on the plants at the school's nursery. Sue

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    1. Which ones look suspicious to you, Sue? I haven't noticed any spider mites but will look closer.

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  2. I will trade you deer (or a woodchuck) for spiders any day. :)

    I wonder if it's lack of rainfall or birds that keeps the webs persistent? I certainly have webs that stick around for weeks or months, but they're usually where rain doesn't hit.

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    1. You're right, rain would wash the webs away. Unfortunately, our dry season has started and we likely won't see any significant rainfall until October.

      My typical remedy is to suck up the webs with a shop vac. I guess it's time to bring it out.

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  3. Your vacuum remedy sounds good even though some might say it sucks. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

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  4. It looks like you have spider mites Gerhard. Here's the link to UC Davis pest management on spider mites http://tinyurl.com/oggffax

    Hope that helps.

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  5. Yucco that is for sure! I wonder what is up with all the spiders? I would definitely check out the spider mite thing!

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  6. I allow spiders free reign here, but I am pretty unfriendly when they deface my plants..I use a small shop vac, or a wisk broom and a webster. I figure the spiders have good odds here since I am no-spray and not phobic.80 percent of them survive, including those that live in the house.

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  7. Gerhard, you definitely have spider mites. Get rid of them.

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  8. Update: I removed some of the densest webs with a small sticks and spiders come scurrying out. Then I hosed down the plants with a strong spray of water. Will do Neem oil next.

    I'm still not convinced I have mites but I can't exclude it. The critters I saw were definitely spiders, moving fast. Some as small as 1/8 - 1/4 inch. From what I read spiter mites are significantly smaller.

    I'll posted updates to keep you informed.

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  9. I've been using dried out aloe bloom stalks to "sweep" away the spider webs in and around my succulents and on my potting bench. But the little buggers are quite persistent.

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