WSU Extension Q&A: Don't be afraid of orb spiders

Washsington State University ExtensionSeptember 27, 2013 

Q. What are the huge, scary spiders with big webs that I've seen in my garden this fall?

A. Those spiders are most likely orb weavers. They are a type of spider that seems to cause concern during this time of year, but they're seldom found indoors. These spiders tend to be large, brightly colored with rounded or strangely shaped abdomens. They create distinctive, large round webs with radiating spirals. The orb-weavers sit head-down in the middle of their beautiful webs waiting for prey. While their bright colors and large size can be worrisome, they're actually beneficial and feed on garden pests, such as grasshoppers.

Q. Why do I need to blanch my corn on the cob before freezing it?

A. The recommendation to blanch corn on the cob, or any other vegetable, is to improve the flavor, color and texture of the product when stored in the freezer. It is not a food safety risk if the corn is not blanched. Any vegetable can be safely frozen without blanching. We do recommend blanching to stop the quality changes mentioned above. These changes are caused by enzymes in the vegetable. The heat treatment of blanching inactivates the enzymes, preventing the quality changes.

Q. We have two Angus cows on our small pasture with calves that were born in March. When should we wean the calves?

A. Traditionally, calves are weaned about 210 days, so the first part of October would be fine. For future reference, calves can be "early weaned" at around 100 days. The advantage of early weaning is that the cows will not be nursing the calf as long and can build body fat reserves before the rigors of winter. There may also be benefits of early weaning during drought conditions. However, one has to take into account that the calf is usually provided with supplemental feed when not nursing, so there is additional cost involved.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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