It happens every summer during extended dry periods: small webs begin to appear everywhere. Some are at the base of plants, some are connected to 2 plants, and some develop on top of low-growing evergreens. They are sticky and don't have a funnel, so I don't think they belong to a type of funnelweb spider. A blast of water tears them down, but by the next day, they're back. What is creating these webs, and should I be pretreating for potential damage?
If the webbing is from spiders, then I wouldn't worry about it. Spiders eat bugs that would otherwise damage your plants. But, webbing can also result from a serious spider mite infestation--to check for this examine the undersides of the leaves for little teeny tiny brown dots. Spider mites will hurt the plant so you'll need to take care of them, and dry weather is ideal conditions for them. If you're not seeing any other symptoms besides the webs and can't find any tiny dots underneath the leaves then it's likely just spiders and I'd leave them alone.
Thanks. I'll check first thing tomorrow. If it is spider mites, would Neem oil be a good way to reduce damage? Or Bayer 3 in 1? I try to avoid anything that harms honeybees, but I really need to get this under control. The webs do not look like typical spider webs. They are more like extremely sheer, transparent dryer sheets.
For spider mites I usually start by blasting the undersides of the leaves with the hose. I do that every few days until I'm pretty sure they're gone, and I've never had to resort to chemicals. But both neem and the Bayer 3 in 1 will work on them if you'd rather use one of them. With the neem though make sure you spray it on the undersides of the leaves since that's where they hang out.
I checked for spider mites and saw none on any of the webs. Here are 4 photos I took of various webs. They are difficult to see because they are so transparent and provide little contrast against the plants. The first and second photos show webs in the middle of ivy. The 3rd and 4th photos are in the middle of an evergreen ground cover. The webs are also on my lupine, hibiscus, roses, crape myrtle, petunias, and many more plants of all varieties, but I couldn't get a decent photo of those.
I think it's just plain spiders, but to check for spider mites don't look in the webs, look very closely at the undersides of the leaves. Spider mites will appear like little teeny tiny brownish or reddish brown dots on the underside of the leaves.
I checked under the leaves of several plants that were "webbed," and there were no spider mites. We got a whopping 1/4" of rain today, and the webs have diminished...not disappeared, though. Expecting another heat wave, so the webs will probably return. If they're regular old spiders' webs, they're welcome in my garden.