Spider Control: Protect Your Home
What Do Spiders Look Like?
Size: Due to the sheer variety of species, spiders tend to resist generalizations about appearance. Mid-Atlantic spiders may remain as small as 1/5 of an inch (5.08 mm) or grow as large as an inch (25.4 mm) or more in length. Perhaps the only universal rule of spider size is that females are significantly larger than males.
Color: Spiders range in color from black to white. Rarely solid in color, the pests tend to have different colored markings along their legs, abdomen, and cephalothorax. Frequently, spiders appear brown with darker brown patterns, black with white markings, yellow and black, reddish brown, and so forth.
Characteristics: All spiders have two main body sections: the abdomen and the cephalothorax. Each spider also possesses eight legs, which protrude from the body. Additionally, all spiders have mouthparts; chelicerae, or pincer-like appendages; eight eyes, which are arranged in various ways that can be used as a means of family identification; fangs and venom glands; and spinnerets, which are the silk-spinning organs of spiders.
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- Species: Over 40,000 species of spiders exist around the world, with more than 3,000 found in the United States alone.
- Classification: Due to their numbers and diversity, spiders resist traditional classification. Spiders can be identified down to the family level fairly easily by pest management professionals; however, it takes a trained taxonomist to identify them down to species.
- Categories: To make pest control easier, professionals organize spiders into one of four broad categories: burrowers, web-spinners, active hunters, and sit-and-wait ambushers. Over 20 species of web-spinners and active hunters are potential pests to Mid-Atlantic homeowners and residents.
What Do Spiders Eat?
Spiders are considered predators. Their diet consists of:
- Other spiders
- Various invertebrates
Some especially large species will attack smaller vertebrates, such as lizards and frogs.
Though people often find the arachnids unnerving, spiders remain beneficial to humans because of what they eat. Various outdoor pests serve as a staple in a spider’s diet, therefore, potentially reducing the number of pests we encounter.
The various species of spiders each have unique reproduction habits and lifespans, though some consistencies exist. Typically, female spiders live longer than males. Lifespans range anywhere from several months to as long as seven years.
Spiders tend to mate between late spring and mid-summer. Females deposit eggs in sacs or cocoons and produce anywhere from 30 to over 1,000 eggs at a time, depending on the species. Many species require several rounds of molting before reaching maturity.
- Webs: Look for spider webs inside and outside the home
- Sighting: May spot adults scampering across the floor
- Eggs: Look for egg sacs and cocoons located near spider webs
Problems Caused by Spiders
- Bites: While spiders actually do more good than harm to homeowners, some species are venomous, though most lack strong enough “jaws,” or chelicerae, to puncture the layers of human skin necessary to cause serious damage.
- Nuisance: Nevertheless, many people suffer from arachnophobia, and the presence of spider webs carries a stigma of uncleanliness. As such, pest management specialists often respond to the need for elimination.
Signs of Infestation
Typically, spiders do not congregate in large numbers, which makes infestations a rare occurrence.
Active hunters and web-spinners are the two types of spiders most commonly found in the Mid-Atlantic region, where they enter homes to search for food. As a result, homeowners may spot webs inside and outside the house in:
Residents may also find adult spiders climbing on walls or running across the floor in search of insects.
Finally, some species of web-spinners and active hunters will leave egg sacs and cocoons inside the home. As spiders tend to produce hundreds of eggs at a time, the sacs and cocoons generally suggest the presence of a large population of the arachnids in the home.
As spiders rarely enter homes in the first place, homeowners need only heed simple preventative measures:
- Humidity: Controlling the level of humidity in attics, basements, and other dark areas of the home deters spiders from settling.
- Seal: Sealing or caulking points of entry, like cracks in the foundation or around doors and windows, helps deter their ability to get inside.
- Clean: Cleaning up woodpiles and other attractive hiding places outside further reduces the chances of finding spiders in or near the home.
- Food: Removing outside webs and changing outdoor lighting reduces the availability of prey, which compels spiders to look elsewhere for food.
Tips for Removal from Home
If spiders have already moved in, Mid-Atlantic homeowners enjoy several easily executed options for removal.
- Vacuum: Vacuuming, for example, is an effective means of elimination. Adult spiders, eggs, and webs can all be vacuumed up, and the dust inside vacuum bags quickly suffocates adults.
- Catch & Release: As unnerving as people may find the prospect, capturing and releasing spiders outside the home is also an effective method of sending the pests on their way.
- Pesticides: As a last resort, people may turn to insecticides or pesticides.
Call on the Professionals
Homeowners who have reached the need for chemicals, or who suffer from black widow or brown recluse spider infestations, should contact a licensed pest control specialist.
Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.
Call for service: (877) 250-3857