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Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

I love most living things but I have never been able to warm up to spiders or snakes. I do feel like I am making some progress.

I try to remember that there are only two kinds of venomous species of spiders in Texas, the black widow and the brown recluse. Both can be found both indoors and outdoors. Spiders are arachnids. They are air breathing arthropods with eight legs and use fangs to inject venom. Texas has over 900 species of spiders. The most common non venomous are Orb Weavers, Grass Spiders, Carolina Wolf Spider, Brown Widows, House Spider and the Gray Wall Jumping Spider. I still kill indoor spiders but leave the nonvenomous ones to happily live their lives in my yard. If you are bitten by a black widow or a brown recluse, it is probably a good idea to check in with your doctor and let him or her determine if you need additional care. The spouse of one of our Master Gardeners was bitten by a black widow recently and spent four days in the hospital where he received antivenin. He put on a glove that had a black widow inside. So, if you keep gloves and garden shoes by your door, consider getting a plastic tub to keep them in.

Both venomous spiders prefer dark places. I found one this year under the bottom branch of a tomato plant. When you are gardening be sure to wear gloves and be aware of reaching behind bushes or pots.

On the bright side, some spiders eat aphids, moths and beetles which can help reduce the use of pesticides. Every insect has a purpose in your yard or garden. Remember that for every insect you kill you must take over the job it performed.

I spent lots of time with my granddaughter when she was younger and one day I was trying to teach her about spiders. I wanted her to see its eyes so we were both bent over one trying to figure our what kind it was. It was a jumping spider. As it jumped, we both ran away screaming like five year old girls.

Happy Gardening and wear your gloves!

If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information.


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