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What are spiders?
Spiders are arachnids with eight legs (instead of six legs like insects). There are over 46,000 different species of spiders around the world. Typically black in color, some species do have brighter colors on their bodies that act as natural warning signals, such as a black widow’s red mark on its back. Spiders have six to eight eyes, which allows them to look in multiple directions at once. Unlike some insects with three distinct body segments, spiders only have two. Most spiders are under 3.5 inches in size; however, female spiders are generally bigger than males. The largest spiders are tarantulas. Some types have venomous fangs, but most do not.
How do spiders make webs?
The main, distinct characteristic that we know about spiders is their ability to spin silk webs. They are the only animal that can spin such strong silk. Their special glands secrete silk proteins that they then push through their pairs of spinnerets in the back of their abdomen. Spider silk is stronger than steel (yes, really) and can be stretched for quite a while before it breaks. Depending on the kind of web native to that particular spider, the building process can vary. What most spider webs have in common though is the tether points that hold the web in place, while also creating a safe place for the spider to hide in while waiting for edible prey to fall victim to the sticky silk.
What are the types of spider webs?While there isn’t a particular scientific amount that has been documented, these are the five main types of webs:
- Funnel web
- Tangled web (aka the cob web, most common around your house)
- Sheet web
- Orb web (like a wheel with spokes, the kind you might see morning dew on)
- Sperm web (relatively small, used for mating)
What do spiders eat?
Spiders are predators; they mainly eat insects. Some spiders chase their prey while most others rely on their webs to catch their next winged meal. Spiders do more help than harm oftentimes because their natural diet keeps the mosquito, moth, and fly populations at bay. Some spiders even eat other spiders for the ultimate natural pest control.
Where do spiders live?
These eight-legged critters enjoy spinning their webs in undisturbed, indoor locations. They are found worldwide in all elevations and climates, although many species prefer tropical climates and can be found there. There are even species of spiders that can live in the water. Spiders don’t stay in one place; in fact, when they are young they secrete long strands of their silk web that allows them to travel with the wind. Through this process, spiders can actually travel up to 2,600 feet.
What are the different types of spiders?
Given that there are so many species of spiders, we can’t name them all here. Below are the most common types of spiders that you might encounter around your home.
Jumping spiders (Salticidae)
This is the largest family of spiders with over 4,000 species. With that many species in this group, they clearly vary in size. One thing they have in common is their four pairs of eyes which gives them great eyesight (but not at night). This allows them to easily stalk and leap or jump to get their prey. They can be found throughout the U.S.
Most jumping spiders are furry, black in color, and can have colorful markings (which can create confusion between black widows and jumping spiders at first glance).
Ground spiders (Gnaphosidae)
Another large family of spiders, these species typically live underneath rocks, logs, or other objects on the ground. They’re typically red, gray, or brown in color and hunt and chase prey instead of using webs.
Wolf spiders are a type of ground spider. They are hairy, large, and have good eyesight that they use to chase down their prey.
Yellow sac spiders
These spiders are typically yellow or beige in color and have a lance-shaped mark on the top of their abdomen. They’re fairly small and usually only grow to ¼ of an inch. They have dark brown fangs. These spiders eat other spiders who get caught in their webs. They also eat other insects and insect eggs.
They are mainly active at night. During the day they retreat to their webs, also called sacs. Outside, they prefer to live in bushes, gardens, leaf piles, and trees. They can be found throughout the U.S., mainly in warmer areas.
These spiders have long front legs and walk backwards or sideways like a crab, hence their name. They are often gray or brown in color and about ½ of an inch in size. They don’t spin webs; instead they hide and wait for any prey.
In the U.S., spiders like black widows and brown recluse spiders fall into this category Overall, most venomous spiders aren’t dangerous unless they feel threatened and bite out of defense. And, even then, most spider bites only cause skin irritation.
If a venomous spider bites you, you’ll want to see a doctor because the venom could cause a more severe reaction in some people. Read more about identifying spider bites and what to do if you encounter a venomous spider below.
What are the signs and symptoms of a spider bite?
Redness, pain, and swelling are typical symptoms of a harmless spider bite. If you’ve got flu-like symptoms including but not limited to the following, medical attention is highly recommended:
- Chills or fever
- Skin ulcer with dead skin around it
As with all medical concerns, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate to talk to a professional if you notice any of the signs of a venomous bite above in yourself or your family.
What to do if you find a black widow spider
Black widows may be the most famous venomous spider. If you notice the red, hourglass marking on the back, you’ve most likely encountered one of these.
In a chance meeting with a black widow, don’t attempt to relocate it by hand. While black widow bites aren’t necessarily lethal, they do pose significant health risks and symptoms including pain and burning, can cause nerve damage, and could be especially dangerous for young children or elderly adults. Contact us if you encounter them in your home, garage or yard.
What to do if you find a brown recluse spider
Another common venomous spider is the brown recluse. They can be found across America, but mostly between Texas and Florida, and up to Ohio. They like to be outside, but can live inside too, especially if you have old cardboard lying around. Rotting tree bark is a favorite location for brown recluse spiders to live.
If you see a brown recluse and it bites you, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. The bites are not typically fatal, but their bite can cause some tissue damage. Contact us if you encounter them in your home, garage or yard.
We handle a wide variety of common spiders across the country, including:
- Long-bodied cellar spiders
- Wolf spiders
- Black widows
While many people know that some spiders are venomous, and some are even dangerous to be around, the spiders we generally come across daily are harmless. Believe it or not, all spiders are venomous, but most venom isn’t strong enough to cause anything more than a painful or itchy welt on most people. When you consider that spiders help control other pest populations, you can see why they are important to have around. However, we understand if you want to keep these crawlers outside where they belong.
Tips for at home
While serious spider problems like a brown recluse or black widow infestation should best be left to a professional, there are a few things you can do to keep spiders at bay. This will keep your home free of these pests and prevent them from potentially interfering with your day to day life. If you ever find that your spider problem is getting out of hand, or that you’re seeing a few too many of these pests in your home for your liking, we recommend reaching out to us to have your home or business treated again as soon as possible.
- Seal up cracks in your foundation, exterior walls, and spaces around air conditioners.
- Keep storage areas in your home are neat, organized, and free of clutter.
- Repair or replace torn window screens and screens over roofline vent holes.
- Keep outbuilding windows and doors closed.
- Caulk any gaps around windows and doors; install weatherstripping.
- Regularly remove spider webs from your home
- Remove woodpiles, rock piles, leaf piles, and fallen trees from your property.