Pest control for spiders typically involves controlling their food sources in and around the house. Control their food source, and you control the spiders. As spiders eat other insects, an infestation of spiders at home means you likely have a whole community of bugs as well.
When Spiders Become Pests / Spider Infestation and Control
Marvel fans would know that “Spidey sense” refers to Spider-Man’s extraordinary ability to sense imminent danger; sort of a sixth sense where he gets goosebumps and the hair on his arms stand.
But whereas Spider-Man is a “spider” we would welcome into our homes, the spider arachnid certainly is most unwelcome. This may seem like the plot of a horror film, but it is oh-so-true: there is such a thing as spider infestation, and it can happen in your office or your home.
Oh, and there are deadly, venomous spiders, too. While they may be too small to work on humans, they are enough to work on some animals (think of your beloved pet!). There have been instances where the human’s allergic reaction to the venom is what proved fatal.
Identifying the creepy crawlers
The good thing (yes, there is a bright side to this) there are only 6 kinds of spiders commonly found in California homes:
The American House Spider
Also known as the common house spider, the American House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) is small and has a round abdomen. They are usually gray with white markings. “Their web often looks very tangled or messy,” says Marc Potzler, a board-certified entomologist, to prevention.com.
American House Spiders like dark, hidden areas where there may be flies they can eat. So check under your cabinets, basements, and other parts or areas of your house or office you haven’t cleaned or visited in quite a while.
The American House Spider is mostly harmless.
The Black Widow Spider
Black Widows (of the genus Latrodectus) are shiny black and known for their red marking on their abdomen (some also have a red marking up their back). They got their name from the fact that they eat the male after mating, also known as “sexual cannibalism.”
Black Widows like to hide, so be wary of dark, dimly lit areas in your house. They like garages, basements, closets, and areas with lots of clutter. Check for them under woodpiles especially in your lawn. This spider is considered dangerous to people.
So it’s better to work with professional pest control in staking them and taking them out.
The last reported human death from a Black Widow Spider bite was in 1983. As of September 2019, there are still 2,200 bites reported each year. If you do get bitten, rush to the ER, stat. Watch out for intense pain, muscle stiffness, nausea, and vomiting.
The Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown Recluse Spider is brown with long legs. If you are lucky enough to get close to it (sarcasm), you will see a violin-shaped mark from its head down to its back. Brown Recluse Spiders have six eyes while most other spiders have eight.
Brown Recluse Spiders — like most other spiders we have listed so far — like to hide in dark, undisturbed parts of your house. But they bite once disturbed. Say, for example, you unfold a blanket or towel you hadn’t used in a while, and a Brown Recluse just happened to be there.
Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., entomologist and insect research scientist with the University of Florida, warns that the Brown Recluse can cause serious damage once it bites. “Its bite can cause necrotizing wounds (kills the cells and tissues around it),” he tells prevention.com.
“So you’ll want to see a doctor immediately if you think you’ve been bitten by one.” If you have spotted a Brown Recluse Spider or suspect you have them in your home, wear protective gloves if you decide to clean around your house.
The Domestic House Spider
Also known as the barn funnel weaver, The Domestic House Spider (Tegenaria domestica) is brownish-gray with markings. Its body can grow up to one inch in length while its legs can be as long as two inches (yes, you have probably encountered this once or twice in your life).
Domestic House Spiders weave a funnel-shaped web. Females are homebodies that prefer to stay in their web. It’s the male and young Domestic House Spiders who like to go around and hang out in other places.
Domestic House Spiders are usually found in dark and cluttered areas at home such as crawl spaces, basements, and the garage, or outdoors in plants and vegetation. Its bite is not dangerous.
Tarantulas (family Theraphosidae) easily give people the scare because of their size (usually large) and their hairy bodies and legs. Some people have taken them as pets, although they do bite — painful, but their venom is weaker than that of a bee’s, says National Geographic.
Tarantulas thrive in tropical weather or Mediterranean-like weather (think warm, humid, and sometimes wet California). They vary in behavior and color according to their location but generally live in a burrow on the ground.
A Tarantula’s bite hurts and looks like a bee sting, with redness and some swelling. Its poison is weak, so it’s unusual for the body to have severe reactions. The best thing to do is to follow your gut. If it looks and feels bad, to the ER you go.
The Wolf Spider
There are around 200 species of the Wolf Spider (of the family Lycosidae) around the United States and they vary in size. The biggest can be about an inch and a half. They can be gray, black, or brown and hairy; that’s why they are often mistaken for tarantulas.
According to entomologists, Wolf Spiders are nomadic and so they don’t spin webs to catch their prey. They hunt them instead. At home, you will usually find them in places where there are lots of other insects to eat, and naturally-occurring gaps.
Wolf spiders are not particularly aggressive, however, as they would rather hide than bite and when they do so, it will be in self-defense.
What are the signs of a spider infestation?
Having spiders at home is a double-edged sword: on one hand, they prey on other insects; on the other hand, they can harm you or your pet, and their number can get out of hand.
Do not downplay the possibility of a spider infestation when you see:
Some of them love burrows, folds, and the dark, while some love to weave webs. If you see more than two spiderwebs at home or in your office, you should begin to consider calling pest control.
Spider egg sacs
Spider egg sacs look like eggs but are softer because they are wrapped in silk. If you see one, dispose of it right away, because a thousand new spiders will emerge from it. (Yep, now it’s really looking like a horror movie!)
Lots of insects
Having lots of different kinds of insects at home means the spiders have a “buffet” of food to feast on. So if they have that in your place, why would they come somewhere else? It’s an eat-all-you-can party!
Spiders are like cockroaches. When you see one, you should know that there cannot be just one; that somewhere in your house they have a burrow or a home base they also call home.
Do spiders hibernate? Yes, they do– typically in autumn, but not until after that have found a mate. After autumn, some hibernate and come out in spring, while some die off. When you see them around your house, they are either looking for food or a mate.
Neither is a good thing. It means you have an underlying insect infestation, aside from a spider infestation.
What can you do?
There are a number of things you can do to prevent a suspected infestation from getting worse:
- Keep your house clean and clutter-free at all times
- Sweep and vacuum regularly to remove spider egg sacs
- Seal cracks, holes, and gaps — in your walls, in your screen doors, etc
- Keep the lights off outside so as not to attract insects that are spider food
- Remove plants around your house which they may inhabit before they enter your home
The surefire way to prevent or manage spider infestation is to work with professional pest control that can do it correctly and thoroughly. This is especially important if you may be dealing with poisonous spiders and you have children. Safety first!