Sorry for the slightly silly post title. This is just a good time of year for those of us who like spiders, that's all. Keeping your eyes open for webs in the trees, in the grass, or even, as in this photo from last year, on the viewing decks can lead to some interesting glimpses of the goings-on in a spider's life.
This is also the time of year that we start to have a lot of spiders brought into the Nature Centre for identification. Many of the female spiders are getting ready to lay eggs and are looking a bit big and scary. The good news is that we have very few spiders in Central Alberta that can give much of a bite (to humans, that is. It would be a different story if you were an insect), and even those that can aren't likely to bite without being provoked.
The spider we get the most questions about in August is a large orb weaver called a Jewel Spider or Jewelled Araneus. I posted some information about these spiders a few years ago, so rather than repeat myself I'll just direct you to that post here. The important thing to remember before you reach for the pesticide is that even though they're big, Jewel Spiders are fairly shy spiders that aren't likely to bite. As a bonus, if you have Jewel Spiders -- or any spiders, really -- around your house, you'll have much less of an insect problem than you might have otherwise.