Spiders are common indoor and outdoor creatures. The potential for spider bites does exist, particularly with wolf spiders, black widows, and brown recluses. Generally, though, spiders are actually beneficial - most are shy, and won’t harm people if left undisturbed. Plus, they can actually help control other pests around the home and garden.
All spiders, regardless of species, have eight legs and two body parts, the cephalothorax (this is where the eyes and mouth are, and where the legs attach) and abdomen. Beyond that, characteristics can vary quite a bit depending on the species. Coloring is usually black, brown, or tan, though markings vary and can sometimes be more colorful. Most spiders you might find around the home or yard won’t get larger than a 3 inch leg span.
Sometimes, people might confuse crane flies for spiders, since they also have long legs. Crane flies only have six legs, though, and unlike spiders, crane flies have wings.
Scorpions can also be lookalikes for some spiders. These pests also have eight legs, but are usually identifiable by their pinchers and long, segmented tail with a stinger at the end.
Spiders are found everywhere in the US. Thankfully, they tend to stay outside, along the house perimeter or within the landscape. Occasionally they will make their way indoors – if they do, it’s likely because there’s a source of food (other arthropods) already inside, or the conditions seem favorable. Once in the home, they usually stay on the first floor or basement level.
Most spiders become active when temperatures reach 50°F. Some spiders, like black widows, are nocturnal, and won’t usually be seen during the day unless you uncover their webs or hiding spots.
Sometimes spiders make their way into unwanted places- below are some strategies for preventing and reducing spider populations in spots where they aren’t welcome.
If you do vacuum up a spider, web, or egg case, immediately move the vacuum outside, empty into a trash bag, and dispose of the bag promptly. For difficult to control infestations, Sunday’s Bug Doom can be used against most spiders (excluding black widow, brown recluse, and hobo spiders).
Spiders can actually be beneficial to have around – they eat a lot of other insects, including small pest species like ants, flies and mosquitoes, and most don’t directly harm humans. Whenever possible (and only if you’re certain the spider isn’t potentially harmful), we recommend removing the spider from the unwanted area and releasing it into the garden or landscape. That way you move the spider out of your way, but retain the benefits of having spiders around!