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Purpose of Spiders & Why They Exist

By: Rita Stadler

Arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) is the 3rd most common of all phobias in America. Considering that there are at least 4,000 known species of spiders living in the United States, it’s not hard to see why so many people get upset about finding these pests in their homes.

Understanding the purpose of spiders and the role they play in our ecosystem can help ease some nerves and make them less scary. Find out more below!

What Do Spiders Do?

There are many benefits of spiders. First and foremost, spiders eat insects. They are important predators. Maybe you’ve noticed a web by the light outside your front door – consider all the annoying moths, flies, and mosquitoes that have been prevented from entering your home because of a helpful arachnid! Though some spiders may make their way into your home, they will eat other insects that may be inside as well. 

While the details can seem a little gruesome if you think about an unsuspecting insect being caught in a sticky cobweb and consumed by an eight-legged arachnid, the fact is that spiders keep the numbers of other pests under control. A few positive results this leads to includes: 

  • Fewer pests destroying crops
  • Less disease being spread by insects
  • Fewer bloodsucking insects stinging, biting, and bothering humans. 

Those are things we can all appreciate.

Another interesting, and lesser known fact, is the benefits they are providing for medical research and product development. Spider venom has the potential to act as a safer painkiller and may be able to treat strokes, muscular dystrophy, and of course, is used for antivenom in cases of harmful spider bites.

Common spider on a webWhy Are Spiders Important?

These pests play an important role in our ecosystem as predators to other insects.  Determining the importance of spiders depends on who you ask. A gardener or farmer is likely to recognize how helpful they are at preventing pests from destroying crops. A doctor, scientist, or engineer may appreciate the innovative possibilities related to the study of spiders. 

However, the average homeowner would likely argue that spiders don’t belong anywhere near them because they are gross, creepy, and scary!

Being scared of them is a normal response, and there are a few types of dangerous spiders, including the black widows and brown recluses. However, most species generally prefer to avoid contact with people. Even in instances of spider bites, healthy adults can usually survive without serious consequences. 

Just because you don’t want to see any inside your home doesn’t mean they don’t serve an important purpose. Keeping spiders outside where they belong is the best way to keep everyone safe, happy, and healthy.

 

A Few More Fun Facts

Here are a few other interesting facts about spiders: 

  • They have either six or eight eyes depending on the species.
  • Despite having so many eyes, many spider species have poor eyesight. They make up for it with the tiny hairs that line their eight legs. The hairs are able to detect scents, helping them find food and potential mates.
  • Spiders are found on every continent, except Antarctica.
  • All spiders produce silk, but not all of them spin webs. The silk they use to spin webs is one of the strongest materials ever discovered. It may not seem like much when you’re swatting it away with your hands, but the tensile strength of spider silk is comparable to high-grade alloy steel.
  • Some spiders are actually kind of cute.
  • Their leg hair is also designed to sense vibrations, such as when prey lands on their web. This is one reason why they don’t like areas with a lot of action or noise.
  • Trapdoor spiders have been documented to live up to 35 years in the wild!
  • The Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula is the largest spider in the world, which can reach up to one foot long in body length and have fangs that are a full inch long! Don’t worry, its natural habitat is in the rainforests of South America.

Keep Them Away From Your Home

Even though we know spiders do serve a purpose and are good for the ecosystem, most homeowners still don’t like the idea of sharing their space with them. 

Getting rid of spiders is a common request, but finding a safe and effective method of pest control is crucial. The first thing you can do is keep a clean home, clear of clutter and debris. They prefer to hide in sheltered, undisturbed areas such as behind an old bookshelf, in a rarely used closet, or down in a dark, dusty basement.

Next, make sure you maintain a pest-free home. They won’t live somewhere without an adequate food source, so keeping other household pest problems under control will also control spiders. Don’t neglect repairing any damaged window screens, weather-stripping around doors, and any other small gaps or openings around your home that they might use to get inside.

Finally, consider using a botanical pest repellent that prevents these pests from creating their home inside your home. Learn more about the habitat of a spider so you can better understand how they get into your home, and other ways to keep them out.