PHIL WIELAND: My yard is now a major web site

2013-08-30T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: My yard is now a major web site nwitimes.com
August 30, 2013 12:00 am

Has anyone else noticed a bumper crop of spiders in their yard this year?

I know spiders get really industrious this time of year, building webs, laying eggs, stocking up on Insect Helper for the winter, but they seem a little extreme at my house. Folklore says that foretells a harsh winter. If true, we are in for an ice age.

Mowing my lawn a couple of weeks ago, I ate a metric ton of webs strung from the trees' limbs to the ground. I don't think Weight Watchers puts any points on spider web consumption, so I didn't put on any extra pounds, but I got tired of picking flies and moths out of my teeth. The Japanese beetles were kind of crunchy, though.

It seems I can't walk anywhere in the yard without seeing a web tent in the grass glistening in the sunlight or have a web hit me in the face. What amazes me is the speed with which the spiders are able to string a web.

Many times I've walked up the back steps to get something on my deck, turned around and walked into a web that wasn't there just seconds earlier. They are like Spider-man shooting webs everywhere.

Do they see me walk by and figure I look like the endless buffet at Golden Corral? So they shoot out a web thinking to capture me? I hate that because you spend the next 20 minutes trying to get all the sticky strand off, and you never know if the spider is attached to it.

The strength of spider webs is legendary. My wife took a power washer to one over our back door, and even 2,000 psi wasn't enough to dislodge it. The spider was very clean, however, and it appeared to be using a conditioner.

Perhaps the most impressive and ambitious bit of arachnid architecture was a web stretching from my basketball backboard to a Chinese elm branch a good 12 to 15 feet away. It was an effort worthy of J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit munching Shelob.

All this spider activity prompted me to call the state entomologist, Phil Marshall, at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Marshall said he wasn't an arachnid expert but the mild winter and summer have been ideal for producing a good crop of more than corn.

Marshall and others suggested I contact in the DNR forestry and nature preserves departments said they had not seen or heard reported — from anyone other than me — an unusual proliferation of spiders anywhere in the state.

Suddenly I'm feeling like I'm in an "Arachnophobia" sequel in which all the spiders in Hobart are surrounding my house and slowly closing in for the kill. It is only a matter of time before I wake up to find myself totally cocooned in web.

And in one corner of my room Charlotte will be spinning her latest web tweet: "Dinner is served."

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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