Introduction to Spiders

Spider is the name of some 34,000 species of arachnids—eight-legged animals, most of which catch their prey in webs. Although most spiders are harmless, they can be a nuisance in a household, there are several kinds that are dangerous and should be avoided.

Spiders may enter a house for a variety of reasons:

  • to find the insects they seek as food
  • to find protected places to spin their webs
  • to find a place to lay eggs
  • as unintentional passengers on plants that are brought indoors.

Preventing Spiders from Entering

Here are some ways of keeping the spiders outdoors.

  • Many homeowners let plants summer outdoors and bring them inside for the winter. Wash incoming plants with insecticidal soap before transferring them into the house to reduce unwanted additions to your home.
  • Take care of any insect infestations quickly to reduce the chance that the spider will come indoors seeking food.
  • Use a rag-covered broom or vacuum cleaner to remove spider webs from your home. Keep corners, baseboards, and moldings vacuumed.
  • Kill or remove to the outside any spiders that you find indoors.
  • Diminish the spiders’ interest in entering with a natural repellent, for example, rubbing alcohol, pennyroyal oil, or eucalyptus oil, put on cotton balls and either placed at suspected entrances or rubbed on window- and doorsills. For serious infestations, you may need to consult an exterminator.

Dangerous Spiders

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  • Hobo Spiders: The hobo spider looks so much like two harmless spiders (the house spider and the giant house spider), that some suggest that even though only the hobo has a dangerous bite, they should all be treated with caution. They are often found in woodpiles, so caution should be taken—and gloves should be worn—when transferring firewood into the home. The hobo spider is chiefly found in the Pacific northwest, but its range is expanding.

  • Widow Spiders: The five types of widow spider found in the United States lead a quiet life and rarely bite, but when they do, they can kill. Like the hobo spider, they gravitate towards wood piles and debris, and inside they will prefer quiet dark locations, like basements, attics, and crawl spaces. This is the group of spiders to which the Black Widow belongs. The Black widow is distinguished by the hourglass-shaped red mark it bears. Widow spiders are found across North America.

  • Brown Recluse Spiders: Recognized by the “violin-shaped” mark they bear, brown recluse spiders are found only in the South Central United States. Their bite can result in conditions that compromise the immune system.

In the case of a spider bite and any doubt as to the culprit, seek immediate medical attention.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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  • Introduction to Ants
  • Introduction to Silverfish
  • Introduction to Pesticides
  • Introduction to Ticks
  • Introduction to Cockroaches
  • Introduction to Termites
  • Introduction to Spider Mites
  • Introduction to Wasps
  • Getting Rid of Gnats
  • Introduction to Dust Mites
  • Introduction to the West Nile Virus