THE COMITY OF SPIDERS
Grasses, Heather, Gorse, Holly, Box, Yew, Conifers and Oak.
This general preference can be accounted for in a number of ways.
It can be supposed that the chemotactic sense of spiders situated in
their leg tarsi causes several plants, including Mint, Rosemary and
Lemon Verbena, to be distasteful to them. Their aversion to mouldy
vegetation may be accounted for in similar fashion, and the same
sense, or another, may also cause spiders to be repelled by the
somewhat sticky stems of Bluebells.
Another factor is the density of the foliage. Provided a herb grows
in compact tufts (
Marram), or a shrub has dense foliage (
a special climate is offered to those which penetrate therein. Here
extremes will be avoided. There is shelter from wind. A certain degree
of humidity is maintained even in dry weather (see the section on
Sandhills). Extremes of temperature will be avoided and protection
from rapid fluctuations afforded.
The rigidity of plant stems and branches is of special importance to
web builders, and shrubs or trees with rigid twigs or leaves, such as
the Monkey Puzzle, Gorse or Holly, will always be favoured with a
quantity of snares provided they are growing in a sheltered situation.
The abundance of insect life living on or coming to different plants
also affects the number of spiders which can survive there. On the
other hand, is it possible that some insects have secured a certain
degree of immunity from spiders, one of their principal enemies, by
colonizing plants which are repellent to spiders?
Spiders vary so much in their habits and requirements that it should
be no cause for surprise if we find that different species favour
different plants. The extent to which spiders reject or select particular
plants varies considerably. Some species seem to flourish on almost
any kind of plant; some favour only a few plants; a small number are
restricted to one plant, and have become specially adapted for life on