Love thy (scary) neighbour

There’s no two ways about it. The most beneficial bugs for your garden are often the least, well, good-looking.

Spiders, centipedes; it’s all those legs! All that unpredictable scurrying! All those alien body parts. Nevertheless, I repress my instinctive shudder when they appear because I know they really do provide a useful service: pest control.

I’ve tried to get my kids to look kindly on them. While they don’t seek creepy-crawlies out with murderous intentions, when these multi-legged creatures do cross their paths, the rotters squish them without compunction. Then they feel it necessary to report back to me with combined revulsion and glee. Clearly, they are not fans.

Yet, during wet weather (and we have had some lately), when our front walk turns into a snail freeway, my 24-year-old still shouts out, “Mind the snails!” What, these snails? The same ones chewing my hostas to tatters? Hmmm.

Well, if I can, let me soften your harsh opinion of the creepy critters that do our gardens so much good.

About now, the common garden spider above is approaching her most fat and juicy – and, therefore, her most revolting. But let’s try to see her as a Venus on the half-orb-web. She’s only that plump thanks to all the bugs she eats. And she eats them for us, leaving fewer to plunder our gardens.

Have a look at this handy (though not inexhaustible) guide to some of Toronto’s common bugs from You’ll see that I’m right.

Now, if I could only nurture her appetite for snails…

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