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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.Local support for Discover Nature is provided by Laurel Adkisson - American Family Insurance Agent - Cape Girardeau, MO.

Discover Nature: Garden Spiders

Missouri Department of Conservation.
A garden spider.

August 30 - September 5

Discover nature this week and look for intricately decorated black and yellow garden spiders in gardens and grassy areas near houses.

Though many in the United States are squeamish when it comes to spiders, in some parts of the world, people believe that giving a spider as a gift or meeting a spider will bring good fortune, a successful marriage, or fair weather.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, yellow garden spiders are one of the largest of the orb weavers. A garden spider's web has a firm frame surrounding the central hub of white silk with threads radiating from the hub. The spiral is the only sticky part of the web. Between the hub and spiral, the spider can pass safely without getting caught in its own trap.

Yellow garden spiders have poor eyesight, and must rely on vibrations to sense prey. The spider’s leg coverings of sensitive hairs sense movement, touch and air currents.

Garden spiders are able to vary their silk's thickness, composition, and stickiness, depending on it’s use. The spider hardens the thread by pulling on it and the spider silk is at least five times as strong as steel and twice as elastic as nylon. It’s waterproof and can stretch two to four times its length.

Information on the Missouri Department of Conservation website emphasizes the valuable position spiders hold in our environment.

On agricultural lands, they destroy huge numbers of crop-damaging insects. Populations of spiders range from 11,000 per acre in woodlands to more than 2 1/2 million individuals in a grassland acre. Since each spider in a field might consume at least one insect per day, their cumulative effect on insect populations is significant.

To keep track of current natural events like when to watch for garden spiders in your yard, you can get your own natural events calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Candice Davis is the former host of Discover Nature on KRCU. Her goal is to help people to discover nature and learn to appreciate the many outdoor opportunities Missouri has to offer. Candice knows that people who spend time in the outdoors are generally less stressed, more thankful, healthier and more successful in life. Children who spend time outdoors have better grades and are more physically active. It’s Candice’s goal to inspire Missourians to discover nature in their everyday lives through stories of butterflies, elk, tupelo trees, alligator gar and other marvels of nature on KRCU’s Discover Nature program.
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