Spiders are a familiar sight outside and around the home. These predators are beneficial, feeding on insects and assisting in lowering the pest populations in and outside houses, yards, gardens, and larger crops. Although some people find spiders frightening, they usually will not try to bit unless they are prodded, held, or accidentally trapped. Most spiders cannot puncture human skin with their fangs, and although there are hundreds of species of spiders found in the U.S., only the black widow and brown recluse have bites that are dangerous.
Some of the common spiders found inside the home include cobweb spiders, which are small-to medium sized spiders that often build in quiet areas of house like basements. The common house spider usually builds loosely tangled webs in basements and crawl spaces. Not surprisingly, cellar spiders can be found in cellars and also crawl spaces. Pale gray to light tan, they are often mistaken for daddy longlegs since they have long slender legs. Funnel weaver spiders create flat, horizontal webs with a funnel opening to one side. These spiders are brownish or grayish and have stripes near the head. They usually build their webs on the ground, around steps, or house foundations but can sometimes be found inside the house.
There are many types of spiders known as hunting spiders, which are generally outdoor spiders but may accidentally wander indoors. Some of the most common of these include wolf spiders, which are medium to large and have dark brown, hairy bodies. They can be intimidating because of their large size and quick movements but are not aggressive. Sac spiders are small to medium-sized and usually hunt at night. During the day, they hide in a small silk tube or sac, hence their name. A sow bug spider can be found all over the U.S. with a grayish-white abdomen and orange legs. They hunt at night and are usually found under rocks outside; inside, they may hide under larger objects. The jumping spider is a medium-sized spider that can jump many times their own length. They are very active during the day and can usually be found on ceilings, walls, windows and areas that get a lot of sunlight. They are dark-colored with white markings though some are brightly colored. They can run sideways and backwards. The Parson spider, with a brownish medium –sized body and a gray abdomen with a white stripe, can be found under stones outside, but indoors they usually take cover under objects or in cracks. They hunt at night, chasing their prey.
None of these spiders are harmful and can be removed by simply placing a glass or container over them, sliding a paper or coaster underneath, and depositing them outdoors. It is almost impossible to get rid all spiders in a home. Since houses near water, fields, or forests may have large numbers of spiders around, it is not practical to try to eliminate large numbers of them, especially since they eat a large number of local pests.
However, there are some steps that can be taken if you want to control the amount of spiders in your home.
Keeping your house cleaned regularly is crucial if you want to control your indoor spider population; this includes eliminating any insects that come into the house. If you have a large spider population in your home, it points to a large insect population. Get rid of any boxes, paper or bags to eliminate clutter and cut down on areas spiders may like. Remove any visible webbing with a broom or vacuum and make sure to destroy any egg sacs you find. Check in quiet, undisturbed places. You can also use sticky traps like roach traps; put these under furniture or large appliances. Hedge balls, or Osage orange fruits, are sold in many stores and are said to repel spiders; however, they are not very effective.
The black widow and brown recluse spiders are the only two dangerous to humans. The female black widow is small, about ½ inch long, has a shiny black appearance and a red hourglass mark on her abdomen. The male is smaller and usually carries several red dots on the top side of the abdomen.
They are usually timid and won’t bite unless accidentally touched or hurt; people are sometimes bitten when they lift things the spider is hiding under. The venom is a nerve toxin and victims will usually feel a tightness in their chest along with rising blood pressure and temperature; about 5% of victims can die if not given medical attention within 14 to 32 hours. If bitten, get medical attention quickly.
The brown recluse spider is about the same size as the black widow, but is usually a dark cream to dark brown color. It carries a violin-shaped mark on the top section of the body and is sometimes called the “fiddler” or “violin” spider. They have three pairs of eyes instead of the four pairs most other spiders have. It is active at night and usually hides in dark corners during the day; it may spin a very loosely organized web. It is shy and will run from humans; it will usually bite if it is cornered. People are sometimes bitten by this spider when they put on a piece of clothing or shoe this spider is hiding in. Sometimes people accidentally roll onto the spider in bed when it is hunting and are bitten. The bite usually doesn’t hurt but may become swollen, red and tender 3 to 8 hours later; this bite can become an ulcerated sore that can be one to ten inches in diameter and take months to heal. In some rare instances, people die from this bite. Immediate medical treatment is required if you are bitten by this spider.
Getting rid of this type of spider involves a similar routine to that of removing any other spider- thoroughly clean the house and remove any webs and egg sacs. Cut down on clutter in quiet areas such as garages, closets, attics and basements. Put in tightly-fitted window screens and clean behind outdoor shutters. Use insecticides as a “barrier treatment” outside doors and foundations, garages and crawl space entries. Wear gloves when removing boxes or other clutter in dark, quiet spaces. You can also use sticky traps in areas that these spiders favor. These spiders may also live outdoors in barns, sheds, and woodpiles or in areas with a lot of debris. Again, wear heavy gloves when carrying or moving wood or cleaning these areas.
However, if you have severe infestations of black widows or brown recluses, you need specialized skills and equipment to deal with this. Call a pest management company in order to get professional help. Alliance Pest Services is your Monmouth County local spider control expert.