Spiders in the House – Friend or Foe?
Spiders are among the most prevalent household pests, crawling their way into two out of three American homes. At the same time, the most common creature-based phobia in the world is arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. So when most homeowners spot a spider, they tend to employ the nearest form of DIY pest control – a vacuum or shoe.
But a few fearless folks adopt a live-and-let-live motto, hoping to enjoy some of the good that spiders do. If seeing one dangling in a web or scurrying across the floor doesn’t make you shudder, you might want to share your home with a few spiders.
One word of caution: It’s always best to avoid touching a spider. While spiders never actively seek human contact, they will bite if they feel threatened or endangered. Spider venom causes reactions that differ from spider to spider and person to person. Symptoms of a spider bite may include a stinging sensation, red mark, localized swelling or an injury requiring hospitalization. Consult your doctor if you have a concern.
Before you squish the next spider you see, consider how this eight-legged wonder might improve your life.
3 Ways Spiders Help Indoors
1. Spiders eat pests. Spiders feed on common indoor pests, such as roaches, earwigs, mosquitoes, flies and clothes moths. If left alone, spiders will consume most of the insects in your home, providing effective home pest control.
2. Spiders kill other spiders. When spiders come into contact with one another, a gladiator-like competition frequently unfolds – and the winner eats the loser. If your basement hosts common long-legged cellar spiders, this is why the population occasionally shifts from numerous smaller spiders to fewer, larger spiders. That long-legged cellar spider, by the way, is known to kill black widow spiders, making it a powerful ally.
3. Spiders help curtail disease spread. Spiders feast on many household pests that can transmit disease to humans –mosquitoes, fleas, flies, cockroaches and a host of other disease-carrying critters.
Typical house spiders live about two years, continuing to reproduce throughout that lifespan. In general, outdoor spiders reproduce at some point in spring and young spiders slowly mature through summer. In many regions, late summer and early fall seem to be a time when spider populations boom and spiders seem to be strongly prevalent indoors and out.
In reality, spring’s spider babies have simply matured, and since they’re bigger, they’re more easily spotted. Mature male spiders begin actively searching for mates, so they’re mobile and frequently scamper into homes.
- Prevent entry into the home by spiders or their food source – other insects. Caulk and block points of entry. Learn more about keeping insects out of your home by reading Winterize Your Home and Keep Pests Out.
- Keep debris, plantings, trash and mulch from touching your home’s structure.
- Store memorabilia and seasonal clothing in plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids. Cardboard boxes attract insect pests, which in turn attract spiders.
- Store firewood outdoors (away from the house) to avoid transporting spiders indoors.
- Apply residual insecticide to spots where spiders build webs and breed: corners, window and door frames, etc.
- Eliminate spider food sources by controlling insects in the home with a residual indoor insect killer.
- Consider applying a perimeter treatment with an outdoor pest control product that’s labeled for use around home foundations.