UC Davis undergraduate, 4th year
Major: Landscape Architecture
Our second week at Pine Trails Ranch, Dalia and I took on the task of cleaning and organizing the greenhouse. The greenhouse on site is a single gable structure, with large glass panels spanning the length of the wall that let in plenty of sunshine during the day. We found an assortment of items inside, ranging from propagated plants, cat carriers, lithium batteries, and gardening supplies. But what surprised us most was the number of spiders living in the greenhouse. Despite being the “Garden Whisperers,” Dalia and I share an extreme fear of spiders. As we started clearing out boxes, we uncovered hundreds of daddy long legs, jumping spiders, black widows, and dozens more species that we had never seen before. Though we are reluctant to admit it, spiders are incredibly beneficial for controlling plant-damaging insects.
In a ranch setting, with horse manure attracting millions of flies, spiders become all the more important for keeping the insect population down. We noticed that the spiders congregated towards more structured and protected areas, like the Jade Plant leaves, or corners of ceilings, and set up shop by spinning delicately patterned webs. The web is made up of connected protein chains that give it strength to catch unassuming prey, such as butterflies, horse flies, and dragonflies. The same way that fly guards protect horses, spiders protect plants from being eaten alive.
Regardless of our deathly fear of arachnids, Dalia and I value the special spider-plant interactions that we witnessed inside the greenhouse.
Green Care Blog
Here you can find blog posts from each Green Care Lab intern. We'll be talking about our research process, the benefits of Green Care therapy, and sharing pictures of our work. Follow along with us!