Pest of the Month – All About the House Spider
Arachnophobia, or an extreme fear of arachnids, better known as spiders, is one of the most common phobias. Fear can be an effective way to protect yourself — you certainly shouldn’t get too close to a venomous black widow or brown recluse spider.
However, while there are an estimated 40,000 species in the world, very few of them are actually a threat to humans, including the common house spider.
Most human-spider contact happens at home with a harmless house spider. A few spider species fall under the category of common house spiders, but to a person who doesn’t want to live alongside one of these pests, they’re all pretty much the same. A natural pest control plan is the best way to prevent these creepy crawlers, but first, you need to understand a bit more about this common house guest and exactly what’s attracting them.
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Common House Spider Facts
American house spiders, or parasteatoda tepidariorum, can be found all around the globe and are the most common spider found in homes. They have an average lifespan of about one year, though depending on the species, some can live much longer. Here are a few facts about them and ways to keep them out of your home this summer.
What Does a House Spider Look Like?
They are gray or dull brown in color, and measure around 6mm long at the body. They can be slightly longer than an inch when leg span is included in the measurement. Their legs typically have a striped pattern and you can find a sphere pattern on their abdomen.
Where Do They Like to Live?
Spiders can live almost everywhere and can survive in many different environments. They usually prefer dark, undisturbed areas, and scent-free environments, but will make their home wherever their basic needs can be met. Like all living things, they need food and water.
House spiders are most often found up high in corners, in crawl spaces, closets, basements, attics, and garages. They are web-building spiders, meaning they wait for food to come to them rather than hunting insects.
Why Do Spiders Come Inside in Summer?
When it gets hot out, these pests favor going into a home or building where they can find moisture and a cool spot to live. Don’t be surprised if you find many webs throughout your home. Spiders will abandon one and move on to the next if the location does not yield much food.
While finding cobwebs in your home is a sign that you have one of these guests living with you — finding many does not necessarily mean you have a spider infestation. Other pests and small insects could be living in the area, too. Insect hot spots, like moist areas, near a water source, or even closer to bright light, are attractive to them because that means more food. Places such as bathrooms, or appliances like the water heater are favorable locations.
What Do They Eat?
Spiders are extremely sensitive to vibrations and can tell the difference between the feeling of a moth, fly, or other insect getting caught in their web. Their senses make it easy for them to know if they should keep and eat the insect caught in the web or if they should release it. If the creature disturbing the web is large and threatening, they know they should stay hidden or retreat.
House spiders are especially skilled at catching and killing other pesky insects. If it weren’t for them, can you imagine how many more mosquitoes would be buzzing by your ear? Or how many more flies you’d have to shoo? Or the armies of ants that would go marching across your picnic in the park? These pests help provide you with free pest control.
Are House Spiders Dangerous?
Spiders are not aggressive by nature and do not bite people unless they are threatened or disturbed. However, because they are experts at living in an area undetected, people don’t always realize when they are disturbing these pests. You can avoid accidentally aggravating them by shaking out your shoes and clothing before putting them on, and by pulling back the covers and doing a quick visual check before climbing into bed.
Bites from most species are very unlikely to pose a serious health threat. The most common reaction to a house spider bite is similar to any bug bite — a raised, red bump. Unless you are experiencing severe pain, abdominal cramping, or worsening discoloration of the bite, you probably don’t need medical attention. In most cases of a spider bite, you can wash the area with soap and water and use an ice pack or cold compress if needed.
How to Get Rid of House Spiders
These pests have many good qualities beyond just eating other insects. Their silk is one of the strongest known natural fibers with uses ranging from the thread in crosshairs for microscopes, telescopes, and rifles to potential medical and commercial applications. Their venom is being investigated for alternative uses in treating muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
It’s okay if you don’t really like being around these creepy crawlers, but preventing them is a better idea than killing them. The best way to get rid of house spiders is to make your home uninviting to these and other pests. A pest-free home means spiders will not have a ready food source so they won’t want to stay. Pest control professionals will recommend you focus your energy on exclusion and sanitation to get rid of them.
Exclusion means stopping spiders from getting in by blocking potential entry points. Making sure that window screens are intact and doors close properly with a tight seal is crucial for preventing pests. Look closely at the foundation of your home for any cracks or holes, and examine any openings for plumbing, dryer vents, and electrical wires to make sure they are securely sealed as well.
Sanitation refers to both cleaning up any existing cobwebs as well as eliminating their food sources. A vacuum is the best way to clear any spider webs you may encounter; they can usually escape a broom. Make sure to empty your vacuum canister or replace the vacuum bag when you are done. Also use your vacuum cleaner to clean up any potential food sources, like crumbs, that may be laying around.
Keeping a clean house will also reduce the chances of other insects coming in, so spiders won’t have a bug buffet in your home. You can help keep these pests out of your home by using Stay Away® Spider pouches. These botanical spider deterrent pouches contain the scent of citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary essential oils which is unpleasant for spiders, as well as many other insects.
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