| Story by Meghan McMahon |
This is the time of year when we often start noticing more spiders and their webs.
We tend to associate spiders and webs with fall and Halloween, and there is some relevance to this association. Many spiders reach adulthood in late summer or early fall, making them larger and easy to spot as they move about. As they mature, the females also prepare to lay eggs, and this increases the size of their abdomens, making them more noticeable. Not to mention, our most well-known web-spinning spiders, orb weavers, have matured by this time of year, which means they are old enough to spin webs of their own. So it's not only spiders but also spiderwebs we see more of at this time of year.
This seasonal trend usually becomes apparent around the Will County preserves and visitors centers in late August or early September. Around this time, spiders seem to pop up everywhere, and so do their webs, including some impressive orb webs created by garden spiders.
Garden spiders are a type of orb weaver, a group of spiders that are usually large and colorful. Orb weavers spin the classic spider web: concentric rings of spider silk held together with spokes also made from silk. Charlotte in the popular children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” is a barn spider, another type of orb weaver, and her web is a classic orb weaver web, called a planar web.