Many people fear or dislike spiders but, for the most part, spiders are beneficial because of their role as predators of insects and other arthropods, and most cannot harm people. Spiders that might injure people—for example, black widows—generally spend most of their time hidden under furniture or boxes, or in woodpiles, corners, or crevices. The spiders commonly seen out in the open during the day are unlikely to bite people.
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 (cephalothorax) and an abdomen. They lack wings and antennae. Although spiders often are found on plants, they eat mainly insects, other spiders, and related arthropods, not plants. 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 such as black widows that have a red hour glass marking on their round black body.
Common Household Spiders
Lycosidae, called wolf spiders, prey on insects that are walking or resting on the ground. They actively hunt in the open during the day and night, and are often observed on the ground in litter and on low vegetation. They can occur in burrows and under debris on soil. Instead of spinning webs to catch prey, make a small, thick web where they rest. They 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, which can make them difficult to discern unless they are moving. About 200 species in North America.
Achaearanea tepidariorum , the common house spider, makes a cobweb in corners of rooms, in windows, and in similar places. These spiders are only marginally capable of biting humans because their fangs are too short to pierce people’s skin; they primarily cause problems by producing messy cobwebs.
Various kinds of small hunting spiders may wander indoors and occasionally, rather large, hunting-type spiders are discovered in homes or garages. Often these are fully grown wolf spider or tarantula males that have reached maturity and are searching for females. When these spiders are wandering, one or more may accidentally get indoors. New houses and other structures in developments may be invaded by wolf spiders that have lost their usual outdoor living places. The more insects that exist inside a building, the more likely it is to have spiders living there. Usually spiders are most abundant in fall following the first few rains of the season.
Remember that spiders are primarily beneficial and their activities should be encouraged in the yard and garden. The best approach to controlling spiders in and around the home is to remove hiding spots in the yard for problematic spiders such as black widows and regularly clean webs off the house with brushes and vacuums. A regular service with Lady Bug can reduce these and other pests and take care of areas that spiders like to breed in.
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