Spider Identification

What are spiders?

Spiders are tricky pests. On the one hand, they are helpful – hunting and feeding on garden pests like mosquitoes and other nuisance insects. On the other hand, spiders are unwanted pests that move into our home without an invitation.black widow spider with egg sac

Spiders are a type of arachnid and have eight legs, two body parts, and many eyes. In our area, the four most common species include:

Black Widow Spiders

  • Color: Black abdomen with a red hourglass marking on back
  • Shape: Spherical
  • Size: 1 1/2 – 1 3/8 inches long
  • Region: Various species found throughout the U.S.
  • Habits: Indoors, black widows prefer cluttered and undisturbed areas such as crawl spaces, basements and garages. Outside, these spiders commonly live in protected areas such as firewood piles, tree stumps, and under stones or decks. They are also commonly found in outhouses, sheds, barns, and barrels.
  • Threats: The biggest threat posed by black widows is their bite. Young children, elderly, and those that have their immune system compromised are at the highest risk. Males lack potent venom and rarely bite which makes them less of a concern but female black widow spiders are known for their aggression after laying and guarding their eggs. When bit by a black widow, pain is almost immediate and can be followed by fever, sweating, increased blood pressure and nausea. Black widow bites are not always felt, in which case the only reliable evidence is slight swelling around two tiny fang marks.
  • Prevention: Wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been store for a long period of time. Before wearing shoes, make sure to inspect them as they are a frequent spider hiding spot. Store firewood five inches off the ground and at least twenty feet from the house. If you are bitten by a black widow spider, seek prompt medical attention.

Brown Recluse Spiders

  • Color: Tan to dark brown
  • Shape: Round, usually with darker violin shaped marking on dorsum
  • Size: 1/4 – 1/2 inches long
  • Region: Found in the Central Midwest from Ohio to Nebraska and south through Texas and Georgia, as far east as Tennessee
  • Habits: Brown recluse feed on small prey such as insects. Indoors, they are typically found in any undisturbed area, such as seldom-used clothing and shoes, under furniture, inside boxes, among papers or in crevices such as baseboards and window moldings. Crawl spaces, attics, closets and basements are the most common hiding areas. Outside, these spiders are usually found around utility boxes woodpiles and around rocks.
  • Threats: Both the male and the female brown recluse spider can bite and inject venom. While usually not felt, the bite results in a stinging sensation followed by intense pain as long as six to eight hours later. A small blister can develop around the bite which can then turn into an open ulcer. Symptoms of this bite can include fever, restlessness and difficulty sleeping.
  • Prevention: Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers and make sure to shake out clothing that has been on the floor or in storage before using. Pay close attention to boots, gloves, baseball mitts and skates that are used less often. Seal all internal and external cracks and crevices to prevent entry. If you are bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek prompt medical attention.

Wolf Spiders

  • Color: Usually dark brown, often with paler (or sometimes yellow) stripes or markings
  • Shape: Stout-robust body with long, spiny legs
  • Size: 3/8 – 1 3/8 in (female) 1/4 – 3/4 in (male)
  • Region: Found throughout U.S.
  • Habits: Wolf spiders actively hunt during the night and usually rest in sheltered places during the day. They are fast on their feet and pursue prey. Because of these habits, wolf spiders are commonly seen by people.
  • Threats: Because wolf spiders feed on a variety of insects, including crop pests, they can be beneficial. Wolf spiders can bite, but it’s extremely rare to experience a wolf spider bite unprovoked. They will only bite if they are handled. The presence of wolf spiders in homes is usually accidental.
  • Prevention: Seal cracks on the outside of the home and use screens on doors and windows.

Daddy longlegs are also common in our area.

Are spiders dangerous?

Daddy longs legs and wolf spiders are mostly considered nuisance pests and pose no real threat to people. Wolf spiders have venom that they use to paralyze their prey. Luckily, their venom is not strong enough to cause health problems in people. Daddy long legs, while appear very spider-like, are not actually true spiders and don’t have venom, making them even less of a threat to us.

Black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders are examples of dangerous spiders that live in our area. While people are not their main target and they don’t seek us out to bite, accidents do happen, and bites do occur. The venom they possess can cause health problems in people. If a bite were to occur, you should seek medical attention to manage the symptoms.

Why do I have a spider problem?

A spider’s favorite pastime is hunting their prey and then feeding on them. Spiders will become a problem on any property that offers plenty of insects to capture and eat. In general, yards with a lot of gardens, tall grass, overgrown vegetation, tall grass, and open trash cans have a lot of insect activity and, therefore, a lot of spider activity.

The main reason that spiders move inside when the weather cools is that the insects they feed on often move inside. No matter the reason spiders have found their way into your home, they and their insect prey don’t belong and should be eliminated as quickly as possible.

Where will I find spiders?

Wolf spiders are not great climbers and live at ground level. Inside our homes, they are usually seen walking along walls, under furniture, or hiding under clutter. Daddy long legs usually choose humid, dark, quiet areas to live, such as basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, laundry rooms, and garages. You’ll often find them on walls, in the corners of rooms, or on window sills. Black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders tend to hide in similar areas in our homes like basements, closets, attics, crawl spaces, cabinets, and dark areas under furniture.

How do I get rid of spiders?

If you are ready to get rid of spiders from your property, reach out to the local pest control experts at Patriot Pest Management. Our customized services performed by our knowledgeable and friendly experts eliminate pests and stop them from coming back.

At Patriot Pest Management, we won’t hesitate to go the extra mile to ensure that our customers are happy and their properties are free of pests. For exceptional home pest control or commercial pest control services in the Greater Bay Area and surrounding counties of California, contact Patriot Pest Management today!

How can I prevent spiders in the future?

Below are some easy to follow tips that will help you keep spiders from taking over your home and yard:

  • Make sure there are no gaps or cracks in the exterior of your home that spiders and the insects they feed on can exploit.
  • Check utility pipes, doors, and windows, sealing any openings you find.
  • Make sure all of your exterior windows and doors have intact screens.
  • Keep kitchen areas clear of food debris that will attract insects to your home that spiders will want to hunt.
  • Storage areas inside your home should be free of clutter to limit the number of places that spiders can hide.
  • Regularly vacuum your home, including under furniture and beds. If you spot spider webs in your house, immediately wipe them down or vacuum them up.
 

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