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Spiders

1-800-PEST-CONTROL is your spider control headquarters. Many people fear or dislike spiders but, for the most part, spiders are beneficial because of their role as predators of insects, they do not eat plants and most cannot harm people. Spiders that might injure people like the black widows generally spend most of their time hidden under furniture or boxes, or in woodpiles, corners, or crevices. Spiders commonly seen out in the open during the day usually do not bite people.

Spider Identification

Spiders resemble insects and sometimes are confused with them, but they are arachnids, not insects. Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, a head region and an abdomen. Most spiders have toxic venom, which they use to kill their prey. However, only those spiders whose venom typically causes a serious reaction in humans are called “poisonous” spiders. See: Spider Bites.

Common Spider Families in North America.
Funnel weavers or grass spiders – 300 species in North America
Sit-and-wait predators feed during the day and night on the ground in most types of vegetation, including low-growing plants and trees. Spin funnel-shaped webs, often with several-inch-wide, flat extension covering plants or soil. The spider waits in the hole of its web. When it detects vibrations from an insect that flew or walked into the web, the spider runs out, captures and bites the prey, then carries it back into the funnel to be eaten. Funnel weavers have six or eight eyes, all about the same size, arranged in two rows.
Orb weavers or garden spiders – 200 species in North America
Feed on insects that fly, fall, or are blown into web. Elaborate silken webs are spun in concentric circles. Young spiders often make symmetrical webs; mature spiders may spin a more specialized design that is helpful in identifying certain species. The spider rests at the center of its web or hides in a shelter near the edge, waiting for prey to become entangled. Orb weavers generally have poor vision and rely on web vibrations to locate and identify prey.
Sac spiders or two-clawed hunting spiders – 200 species in North America
Stalk and capture prey that is walking or resting on surfaces. They spin silken tubes or sacs under bark, among leaves, and in low plants or on the ground, where they hide during the day or retreat after hunting. Commonly are nocturnal, medium-sized, pale spiders with few markings.
Dwarf spiders – Several hundred species in North America
Prey on insects that fall, walk, or land in their web. Active by day these spiders occur in the plant canopy and on the ground. They produce sheet like webs on the surface of plants or soil and are common in some field and vegetable crops. Most are relatively small.
Wolf spiders – 200 species in North America
Prey on insects that are walking or resting on the ground. Actively hunt in the open during the day and night, often observed on the ground and on low vegetation. Can occur in burrows and under debris on soil. Instead of spinning webs to catch prey, make a small, thick web where they rest. Have a distinctive pattern of eyes: four small eyes in front in a straight row, one middle pair of larger eyes, and one rear pair of widely spaced eyes on top of the head. They have long hairy legs. They are usually black and white or strongly contrasting light and dark.
Lynx spiders 2 dozen known species in North America.
Stalk and capture resting or walking insects. Active hunters with good vision. Most have spiny legs and a brightly colored body that tapers sharply toward the rear. They have four pairs of eyes grouped in a hexagon.
Jumping spiders – 300 species in North America
Day-active hunters in plants or on the ground. They make no web; instead they stalk and pounce on prey by jumping distances many times their body length. Jumping spiders have a distinctive pattern of eyes in three rows: the first row of four eyes, with large and distinctive middle eyes; a second row of two very small to minute eyes; and a third row of two medium sized eyes. They usually have a metallic-colored abdomen.
Cobweb, cobweb weaver, or comb-footed spidersOver 200 species in North America
Feed on insects that walk or fly into their webs. Almost always found hanging upside down by their claws in irregularly spun, sticky webs, waiting for prey. The spider is usually concealed in a corner of the web, in a silken tent, or behind debris. This group includes the black widow spider, which produces relatively thick silk that feels rough and sticky. They generally have a soft round bulbous abdomen and slender legs.
Crab spiders or flower spiders – Over 200 species in North America
Stalk and capture insects walking or resting on surfaces. They are hunters that do not spin webs. Front two pairs of legs are enlarged and extend beyond the side of their flattened body, making them look like tiny crabs. Their small eyes occur in two slightly curved rows, with the top row often much wider than the lower row.

If you can not identify the spiders infesting your home Call 1-800-PEST-CONTROL for a Free in Home Examination.

Spider Management

Remember that spiders are primarily beneficial and their activities should be encouraged in the garden. Pesticide control is difficult and rarely necessary. The best approach to controlling spiders in and around the home is to remove hiding spots for secretive spiders such as black widows and regularly clean webs off the house with brushes and vacuums.

Spider Prevention

Spiders may enter houses and other structures through cracks and other openings. They also may be carried in on items like plants, firewood, and boxes. Regular vacuuming or sweeping of windows, corners of rooms, storage areas, basements, and other seldom used areas helps remove spiders and their webs. Vacuuming spiders can be an effective control technique because their soft bodies usually do not survive this process. Indoors, a web on which dust has gathered is an old web that is no longer being used by a spider.

Individual spiders can also be removed from indoor areas by placing a jar over them and slipping a piece of paper under the jar that then seals off the opening of the jar when it is lifted up.

To prevent spiders from coming indoors, seal cracks in the foundation and other parts of the structure and gaps around windows and doors. This will not only keep out many spiders but also will discourage them by keeping out insects that they must have for food.

Indoor Spider Control

The first consideration in spider control is to determine whether or not the spiders are living indoors. If large numbers of spiders are seen indoors they could be more than a nuisance problem. Most of the spiders are small in size (usually 1/4″), uniformly colored (pale yellow, tan or gray), and not hairy in appearance. In indoor storage areas place boxes off the floor and away from walls, whenever possible, to help reduce their usefulness as a harborage for spiders. Sealing the boxes with tape will prevent spiders from taking up residence within. Clean up clutter in garages, sheds, basements, and other storage areas. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid accidental bites.

Outdoor Spider Control

Those spiders that live outdoors, are usually large (1/2″ or more), hairy, distinctly patterned (even brightly colored), and usually jump or run quickly.
Outdoors, eliminate places for spiders to hide and build their webs by keeping the area next to the foundation free of trash, leaf litter, heavy vegetation, and other accumulations of materials. Trimming plant growth away from the house and other structures will discourage spiders from first taking up residence near the structure and then moving indoors. Outdoor lighting attracts insects, which in turn attracts spiders. If possible, keep lighting fixtures off structures and away from windows and doorways. Plant all trees and shrubs away from foundations for maximum sunlight exposure.  Sweep, mop, hose, or vacuum webs and spiders off buildings regularly. Insecticides do not provide long-term control and it is not recommended for outdoor spiders.

Spider Bites

Unlike mosquitoes, spiders do not seek people in order to bite them. Generally, a spider doesn’t try to bite a person unless it has been squeezed, touched, or similarly provoked to defend itself. Moreover, the jaws of most spiders are so small that the fangs cannot penetrate the skin of an adult person. Sometimes when a spider is disturbed in its web, it may bite instinctively because it mistakenly senses that an insect has been caught.

The severity of a spider bite depends on factors such as the kind of spider, the amount of venom injected, and the age and health of the person bitten. A spider bite might cause no reaction at all, or it might result in varying amounts of itching, redness, stiffness, swelling, and pain—at worst, usually no more severe than a bee sting. Typically the symptoms persist from a few minutes to a few hours. Like reactions to bee stings, however, people vary in their responses to spider bites, so if the bite of any spider causes an unusual or severe reaction, such as increasing pain or extreme swelling, contact a physician, hospital, or poison control center.

Sometimes a person may not be aware of having been bitten until pain and other symptoms begin to develop. Other species of arthropods whose bites or stings may be mistaken for that of a spider include ticks, fleas, bees, wasps, bedbugs, mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, and water bugs.

For first aid treatment of a spider bite, wash the bite, apply an antiseptic to prevent infection, and use ice or ice water to reduce swelling and discomfort. Bites or stings from a variety of arthropods can result in an itching wound. Rather than scratching, if necessary, try to relieve the itch with medication. Scratching can break the skin and introduce bacterial infection, which you or even a physician may mistake for an arachnid bite. If you receive a bite that causes an unusual or severe reaction, contact a physician.

If you can not identify the spiders infesting your home Call 1-800-PEST-CONTROL for a Free in Home Examination.