Cleaning up the fall garden is filled with so many decisions for the gardener. It's not just the fate of the plants that has to be determined, but also the fate of the unending number of other garden residents must be decided. I was busily trimming the basil. Snipping off the flowering tops and seeds and removing nasty looking leaves makes picking basil for use a lot easier. With the cooler September weather, fresh basil season is rapidly drawing to a close. There in the middle of the patch was this amazing spider. She is not quite as big as pictured, but it is close. I would never purposely squish such a spider. It is my policy to let these Argiope aurantia spiders live in the garden. It warms my heart to think of all the babies she will produce, patrolling my garden eating those bugs that insist on eating me or my plants. I just moved to another part of the garden to work on something else.
There have never in my memory been so many of these spiders in the garden. This one was over by one of the day lilies. This picture shows more clearly why we have always called these Marge Simpson spiders.
The largest one I have seen so far was over by Ed's shed. Even the underside of this spider is intricately patterned. I wonder just how many of these there are here in the garden and beyond?
I have always read about Marge's husband hanging around the web. He was always described as nondescript and tiny. I never saw a picture of a male Argiope aurantia , but there he is in my basil. The difference in size is appalling. He is one brave spider!
A beetle like this one that looks like a ladybug was left unmolested.
This spider gave me more of a start when I first saw it. It was tucked up under the handle of the water hydrant. I got the camera and took a picture of this "Garden Spider". In the garden it would fare better, but I was not happy with the thing lurking where I put my hands so often. I watched my chance and when the spider was not visible, I uses all the squirting power I could get to clean out the hydrant handle. So far it seems to have moved on, but I try to keep an eye out for her return.
I used to be squeamish about killing anything. Now I admit I take great delight in squishing Japanese beetles, cutworms... anything I know to be bad from my gardener's point of view. Even circumstantial evidence is good enough for me. If I find a cardinal flower plant striped of it's leaves and there is a caterpillar on the plant I squish it and feel good about it. With practice maybe I can develop my mean streak!