Learn powerful up to date methods from the experts that will stop Spiders in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
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How to Do Pest Control for Spiders
Although they are not insects, spider control falls under the expertise of Pest Management Professionals. Spiders inspire a wide range of highly charged reactions ranging from genuine heart-stopping terror to captivation at the intricacies of the web and spiders’ many abilities. One of the most beloved animal characters in American Literature is Charlotte the spider in E.B. White’s classic children’s book Charlotte’s Web. White attributes human characteristics to Charlotte the spider, as she demonstrates true friendship and sacrifice for others. Your adult reaction to the spider in your corner now, may very well be related to your memory of and experience with Charlotte’s Web.
Despite Charlotte reminding us of the positive attributes of spiders, the truth remains that most people will not tolerate spiders spinning webs and dominating the high corners of the living room. When spiders come indoors, it may be a sign that there are other insects present indoors. Safe and effective pest control methods exist to get rid of spiders and the insects that they may be feeding on out of your home or business.
Benefits of Spiders
Despite the creepy crawly factor, spiders provide benefits to humans that other arthropods do not. Spiders are predators and therefore consume insects that may be in or around your home. Depending on the species of spider, they have been known to eat roaches, mosquitoes, flies, and moths. It is believed that each spider can eat up to 2,000 insects per day. Norman Platnick, an arachnologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, argues that without spiders we could face famine. He argues that spiders are relied upon to eat insects off of our food crops, and without them the crops would fail causing food shortages. Spiders are especially important in organic farming practices, where traditional pesticides are not used.
Another benefit of spiders’ eating habits, is that they may slow the spread of bacteria and germs. When you consider the diseases that are spread by roaches, fleas, mosquitoes, and flies, any reduction in these insects will reduce the spread of disease.
Almost all spiders contain venom, but most of them are not harmful to humans. However, each venom contains chemical compounds which may be medically useful. Research is ongoing using different spider/scorpion venoms to improve pain control medication, heal muscular dystrophy, and identify brain tumors. With over 45,000 different species of spiders on earth, the possibilities that their venom presents are boundless.
Spider silk is the protein rich material that spiders use to create their webs. Spider silk is said to be stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar yet highly elastic. Producing this material in a laboratory setting is a challenge, but once that process is perfected, the creative uses for this material will be voluminous. Ideas currently in the works for this material include bike helmets, bulletproof jackets, airplane wings, and a general textile which would be environmentally friendly and affordable to produce and biodegradable.
Many people choose to adopt a “live and let live” philosophy with spiders. Others choose a swift swat with the bottom of a shoe approach. Wherever you land on this spider spectrum, we can at least acknowledge their benefit to man and the environment.
There are approximately 45,000 known species of spiders in the world, and it is suspected there are many more yet undiscovered. There are approximately 2,500 species of spiders found in the United States. Among the many different species of spiders, their habitats, reproductive behaviors, hunting practices, and their appearances, biodiversity is revealed and celebrated. While extreme fear of spiders, or arachnophobia, is certainly real and debilitating for some, as we learn more about their benefits, diversity, and astounding capabilities of spiders a culture of spider lovers and defenders has emerged. They affectionately call their spider friends spoods, and advocate for and champion the cause of spiders.
Spiders are found everywhere on earth except Antarctica. Most spiders live exclusively on land, but there are a few species that can swim and feed in the water. All spiders are predators, eating live insects and sometimes other small invertebrates. Spiders either capture their prey in an intricately spun web or actively hunt for their prey. Once a spider catches their prey, they inject venom into the prey which immobilizes them. Because spiders primarily eat bothersome insects, they are generally considered useful in terms of pest management. However, the unsightly presence of webs on buildings and marinas projects an unkept and unsightly appearance.
Spiders are not insects, rather they belong to a class arachnida. Like insects, spiders have segmented bodies, tough exoskeletons, and jointed appendages. However, arachnids differ from other arthropods in significant ways.
Spiders have 8 legs.
Spiders have 2 sets of extra appendages.
Chelicerae – fang shaped appendages used to grab food and inject venom into its victim’s body.
Pedipalps – used to hold down the spider’s prey; also used by some male spiders for reproduction. Sometimes these appendages are so long they look like an extra pair of legs.
Most spiders have 8 eyes, but some have 6 eyes.
Spiders do not have antennae.
Spiders have two-part bodies –the cephalothorax (head and thorax fused together) and the abdomen.
Spider Mating Habits
The facts of spider reproduction are enveloped in gruesome narratives, some myth, and some facts. The truth is, mating is very dangerous for most species of male spiders. The most common fearsome fact is that female spiders eat male spiders after sex. In fairness, there are many different species of spiders, and they all behave differently. The black widow spider is most closely associated with this cannibalistic belief.
Male spiders are often much smaller than female spiders. They must approach the female gingerly and carefully. Uncommon in the animal world, most male species of spiders are choosy as to the female they mate with; they instinctively understand that their first date may be their last. In order to mate, the male spider deposits sperm on his pedipalps, front arm-like appendages, then inserts his pedipalp into the female to fertilize the eggs.
Male spiders do often die during or shortly after mating. The male widow spider often escapes the female’s web with his life after mating but will likely die of natural causes a few days later. If he is exceptionally exhausted after mating, the female black widow may capture him and eat him. A female European orb-weaver female bites onto the male’s abdomen during mating but many species of orb-weaver spiders wait until after copulation to attempt to dine upon their partner. The male fishing spider dies a spontaneous death immediately after copulation. Although the female fishing spider does not kill the male, she certainly does eat his body. Male nursery web spiders often approach a female with a gift, an insect meal wrapped in silk. Researchers found that male nursery web spiders who did not present a gift to the female were 6x more likely to be eaten before mating. A few brave male nursery web spiders attempted to gift an already eaten insect or an inedible seed. In these instances, copulation was cut short, and the deceitful male spider was eaten.
Male peacock spiders attempt to seduce females by showing a colorful display and performing a courtship dance. Male peacock spiders have flap-like extensions on their abdomen that can be folded down or flipped up and expanded to display a pattern of vivid blues, yellows, reds, and black. This display has been compared to the male peacock, hence the name for the spider. If the female peacock spider is not immediately aggressive, the male begins a series of “dance” moves which cause vibrations to reach the female. It is believed the female peacock spiders only mate once in their lives, therefore they can be choosy. The combination of the impressive colorful fan display and the vibrations may entice the female to allow the dancing male peacock spider to approach and mate with her. If the female peacock spider is less than impressed by the male’s display and fan dance, then she may attempt to eat him. She may also attempt to eat him after copulation.
These sensationalized instances of spider mating habits are intriguing and horrifying. While mating is an inherently dangerous activity for male spiders, many do live to see another day.
Spider Life Cycle
Most spiders live for about 2 years, but some live up to 10 years. Due in part to their mating habits, female spiders live longer than male spiders. A pet female tarantula can live up to 25 years.
Female spiders lay eggs which they wrap in silk. Depending on the species, female spiders lay between 2 and 1,000 eggs. Some spider species carry this egg sac around with her, while other species hide their eggs among foliage, in a burrow, or in their web. Other species of female spiders die after they lay their eggs. Depending on the spider species, the eggs usually hatch within a few weeks. Spiderlings hatch inside the silk wrap and emerge looking like a miniature version of their parents.
Molting is an important aspect of spider development. As they grow, spiderlings shed their exoskeleton. Their blood pressure increases which causes their exoskeleton to break. As their blood pressure fluctuates up and down, the spiderlings are able to get their legs out of their old skin or cuticle. This old skin is discarded, and the baby spider must await the hardening of his new exoskeleton. This is a dangerous time for spiders as they are exposed; any small injury is usually fatal. The number of molts a spider must endure is dependent upon the sex and species of the spider. Female spiders are larger therefore require more molts to become adults. Most spiders molt between 4-12 times before they become adults.
Most species of spiders do not provide care for the baby spiders once they’ve hatched. After emerging from the sac, most spiderlings either walk to a new location or travel by ballooning. As a spiderling prepares to balloon, he travels as high as he can and stands with his abdomen in the air. He releases several silk threads into the air which form a triangular shaped parachute. The spider then appears to be carried away on the wings of the wind.
Historically it was assumed that spiders used the wind alone to carry them through the air, however, more recent research suggests that the electrical fields of the earth may contribute to this phenomenon. Charles Darwin observed spiders ballooning aboard the HMS Beagle which was approximately 60 miles off the coast of Argentina. He speculated that electrical charges may allow them to do this.
More recently this has been studied in a closed and controlled environment. In this controlled environment with no wind, but electric fields representative of the earth’s ionosphere, spiders were inspired to climb to the highest spot and appear ready for take-off. Flight by electrostatic repulsion may in fact be a true “spidey sense.”
Most of the time, spiders only travel a few meters via ballooning, but spiders have been reported up to 2.5 miles in the air and about 1,000 miles from shore. Whether it be on the wings of the wind or channeling the earth’s electrical fields, ballooning can take spiders to new and faraway lands or just down the road.
Spiders are found all over the world except for the polar regions. Spiders can survive in deserts, rainforests, backyards, indoors, and even on the water. Outdoors, spiders live in trees and shrubs, on the ground, and some species even tunnel underground. Indoors, spiders prefer quiet areas of our homes and businesses, in the basement or attic, dark corners, behind bookshelves, and under the basement stairs.
Spiders in Your Home
While the natural habitats of spiders are fascinating and endless, where do they tend to prefer in your yard, home, and office? In a suburban lot, you will most likely see spiders and their webs in or near your garden. With plenty of foliage and fencing and stakes to support the plants, spiders can find the ideal location to spin their web. Many gardens attract other insects which act as food for the spider. Treat insect infestations on your garden as soon they become apparent; your yield will improve, and spiders will move on if they are not scoring a meal.
Spiders can often be found on outdoor play structures and rock or wood piles. The less likely they are to be disturbed by your day-to-day activities, the more likely spiders will set up shop. Some homes are more prone to mosquito problems than others. To minimize spiders in your yard, practice good mosquito management techniques. This includes ensuring there is no standing water in the yard or garden. Just a capful of standing water can enable mosquitoes to breed. Check for toys, tires, and planters that may be holding water. Check for leaky and dripping hoses and plumbing fixtures. A professional mosquito pest control application will minimize mosquitoes in your yard, thus minimizing spiders.
Spiders prefer to be outdoors where the insects are. If you are experiencing a serious indoor spider problem, you may have a serious indoor insect problem as well. Most of the time, spiders come into your home through an open or cracked door, window, air vent or any other small opening. If there are small gaps around where plumbing and electrical lines enter your home, spiders can slip inside. Thoroughly sealing the crevices, doors, and windows can prevent most instances of spider entrance.
However, sometimes spiders are inadvertently brought in your home on another object. Cardboard boxes full of books or paperwork, a plant, a bin of camping equipment brought in from the shed, or a crate of fruit or vegetables could all be carrying a stow away spider. Carefully check anything you bring into your home to avoid introducing spiders to your home.
Once inside your home or business, some spiders are attracted to moist areas of your home and other species are attracted to dry areas of your home or office. Spiders may be found in a moist cellar or basement, or high in a dry corner of the living room near an air vent. Spiders hide particularly well in cluttered areas. Seldom used storage bins are a favorite spider hangout. Spiders often seek refuge in clothes and shoes. Piles of laundry, gardening gloves left in the shed, and sneakers left outside are all places that you may encounter a spider.
With all creatures, the key to survival in a particular habitat is the availability of food. Spiders eat insects; if your pantry is infested with ants, roaches, or moths, spiders will take advantage. If you have an Integrated Pest Management Plan in operation both indoors and outdoors, spider sightings should be a rare and passing occurrence.
Desert and Forest Spiders
Spiders are quite versatile and can flourish in almost any habitat. They can regulate their body temperature by either sunning themselves or burrowing to escape the harsh desert sun. Spiders in desert regions require almost no additional water other than they water they derive from their food. They are usually more active at night and hide in cracks and crevices or under rocks and other debris during the day. Spiders that live in the Sahara Desert, excavate underground burrows by wrapping sand in their silk threads and bringing it to the surface. A species of giant crab spider, a desert dweller, excavates underground burrows by forming a basket with his appendages.
There are many varied species of spiders that call the forest their home. Some spiders in the forest create webs to capture their prey, while other forest dwelling spider species jump on, spitting at, or create a trap door to kill their prey. Forest environments provide ample opportunity to observe large undisturbed spider webs, but many spider species do not utilize webs. Spiders that rely on the trees and vegetation of the forest are at risk due to deforestation. In areas where deforestation is a serious concern, new species of spiders and other animals are still being found and classified. Many of these newly identified species rely on distinct environmental conditions that are being destroyed at alarming rates.
More than 3,600 species of spiders inhabit the Amazon basin. Some of these are tiny, others are over a foot in diameter. Many rainforest spiders spin intricate webs, while others tunnel underground. While most spiders are solitary, some species in the Amazon actually live in colonies. Anelosimus eximius is a communal spider species that lives in the Amazon. This fascinating spider species lives in colonies that may contain up to 50,000 spiders! They build webs that are more than 25 feet long and 5 feet wide. The communal spiders of the rainforest work together to capture and kill prey, build and maintain their webs, and care for their young. While most of us are unlikely to encounter a colony of 50,000 spiders, the arthropods of the rainforest reminds us of the exploration and discovery still unknown.
Spider Webs and Spider Silk
Spider silk is one of the most incredible substances on planet Earth. Scientists have long been fascinated with this protein rich fiber spun by spiders. Spider silk is said to be stronger than steel or Kevlar, but highly flexible, and extremely lightweight. The industrial uses for this type of material are endless. However, scientists have been unable to recreate this substance in the laboratory. Unlike silk worms, who can be commercially raised and their silk harvested, spiders raised together tend to eat one another.
There is one textile in the world that was created using spider silk. This one-of-a-kind piece has been displayed in London and New York City. To create this 11 feet x 4 feet shimmering golden cape 70 people spent 4 years hand collecting golden orb spiders in Madagascar. Once captured, the spiders were hooked up to a hand cranked device which extracted silk from multiple spiders at once without harming them. The spiders were released back into the wild and recaptured after about a week. The golden orb spiders could by then generated more silk. More than 1 million spiders were used to create this treasure, and it cost nearly $400,000. This intricately woven golden cape is a small vision of the wonders of spider silk.
Spider silk starts as a liquid inside its body and is stored internally in the ampulate gland. Spiders harden this liquid silk by acidifying it. Once it is in a hardened form, it is spun into a fiber by the spinnerets which are located on the spider’s abdomen. Not all spider silk is the same; there are 7 different types of silk. Depending on the species of spider and her particular needs at the time, she may produce a silk specific for ballooning or to be used as a lifeline. Another silk is specifically used as a temporary scaffolding while she is creating a web, while another yet is used to wrap and secure freshly caught prey. A different silk is produced when she wraps eggs in a sac, and yet another is used in the middle of her web to capture prey.
Not all spiders create webs to capture their prey, but all spiders produce silk. The spiders that do not spin webs use their silk making powers for a variety of reasons. They can use silk to drop from a perch to capture prey and return again. They often wrap their prey in silk cocoons, and some spiders lay webs not to trap prey, but to alert the spider of an insect’s presence. Some spiders leave a trail of silk with pheromones so that the opposite sex can find them. The uses for spider silk are as varied and original as the silk is amazing. Thus-far humans have been unable to replicate this incredible substance. If this ever becomes a reality, the commercial applications are infinite.
Spider’s Eating Habits
Almost all spiders are predators. They eat insects such as roaches, ants, termites, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fleas, earwigs, and moths. Some large exotic spiders may eat lizards, frogs, or even small birds, you are unlikely to witness this in your suburban neighborhood. Of course, we’ve already learned that many species of female spiders are cannibalistic, eating male spiders either before, during, or after copulation. The process of matriphagy is the ultimate act of maternal sacrifice.
Matriphagy is rare in the animal and spider world but does occur in a few spider species. The baby spiderlings hatch out and are fed the vomited up remains of the mother spider’s last meals. As she regurgitates her last meals for her spiderlings, she is eventually consumed by her own progeny.
Scientists estimate that the world’s spiders eat between 400-800 million tons of insects per year! To put this in perspective, humans eat approximately 450 million tons of meat and fish per year. While most spiders can go weeks between meals, if food is readily available, they will eat up to 4 times per day. Some spider biologists estimate that this averages out to spiders eating 10% of their body weight per day. Because spiders consume insects that are generally agreed upon to be pests, some people prefer to let spiders live.
Hunting Practices of Web Building vs. Wandering or Hunting Spiders
Spiders are often divided into two categories, web building spiders and wandering/hunting spiders. Web building spiders are patient and nimble. They spin intricate webs then wait for their next meal to be caught in the web. Most spiders have poor eyesight; web spiders rely on vibrations on the web to determine the location of the prey on their web. Once a web building spider senses the capture of prey, they quickly and nimbly pounce on the prey and immobilize it. Orb spiders all web building spiders.
However, not all spiders rely on webs to capture their food. Hunting or wandering spiders are generally fast, and strong and inject their poison into their prey with their sharp fangs. Some spiders are camouflaged and ambush their prey as they pass by. Other hunting spiders actively chase down insects and other prey. The trap-door spider digs a hole then covers the entrance with silk. He peers out a small hole and waits for a meal to walk by. He then pounces, immobilizes the prey, and consumes the meal. Some spiders spit. Spitting spiders eject a sticky substance that is forcefully expelled in the direction of the intended prey. If they hit their mark, the insect is glued stuck and cannot get away. Jumping spiders may jump several times their body length when attacking prey. There are over 6,000 species of jumping spiders. Jumping spiders follow and track their prey and have the best vision among spiders. However, they use a “safety rope” of silk to help them get back to their perch after a long jump.
The various hunting practices of spiders reflects the diversity present among arachnids. They utilize many different methods of procuring their meals, and are efficient pest eating machines.
How Do Spiders Eat?
Many people simplify the process of how spiders eat to the point of saying that spiders suck the blood or juices from their victims. Spiders are not vampire like creatures; their eating habits are actually much more complex than simply sucking juices.
Just as every human would approach a large tomahawk steak differently, so different species of spiders take different approaches to ingesting their meals. Spiders do not have teeth, or really even a true mouth. Rather than a traditional mouth, spiders have a straw like organ that they use to suck up their meals. However, they must first liquefy the meal in order to extract the nutrients. Spiders have 2 fangs, also known as chelicerae, that can serve multiple purposes. They can use these fangs to help chop up or cut some pieces of their meal, or they can bite their prey and inject it with venom. This venom either paralyses or kills the prey. Some, but not all, spiders wrap their meal in silk to make transporting it to the nest easier, or to wait for it to die. The spider then expels a digestive juice onto or into the dead insect to begin to liquify the contents.
Some spider species “chew” their prey up with the serrated edges of their fangs. This enables the digestive enzyme to more readily get into the body of the insect to be eaten. This digestive juice is the ultimate meat tenderizer. Once the internal tissue has sufficiently been softened, the spider can suck the liquified remains up into his stomach. The spider will repeat this process until the meal is consumed. When the spider has completed his meal all that remains is the intact exoskeleton of the prey.
Spider Venom and Bites
Most spiders have venom glands and produce venom. Spiders produce and utilize this venom to immobilize or kill their prey. Most spiders are not a threat to humans; their bite will not even pierce our skin. With almost 40,000 species of spiders world-wide, only about 30 are dangerous to humans. Spider venom is unique between the various species of spiders.
Spider venoms are a complex combination of hydrophilic neurotransmitters, proteins, and peptides. Because of spider venom’s unique combination of chemical structures and peptides, it is a frequent source of research and testing for pharmacology and agricultural purposes. Using spider venom, progress has been made in treatments related to pain management, epilepsy, strokes, and other debilitating illnesses. Because of its effect on various insects, research is ongoing regarding spider venom as an insecticide. Despite the relative safety of humans when facing spiders, some spider bites are dangerous to humans.
There is a distinction between venom and poison; spiders are considered venomous, not poisonous. A poison is a substance or chemical ingested via the digestive tract, inhaled, or contacted, such as eating a poisonous mushroom or berry, or coming into contact with urushiol by touching poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac plants. Venom is actively injected into the system via a bite, a fang, or a sting. Despite its dangers, humans have long been using venom for our own purposes. The Native Americans applied rattle snake venom to the tips of their arrows to increase the likelihood of death should the arrow meet its mark. Cobra venom was used in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian natural system of medicine, to treat joint pain and arthritis. Because of its chemical complexity, spider venom has been a source of fascination with researchers from many different disciplines.
Spider venom is produced in venom glands. Spider venom is delivered to its victim by fangs. Spiders do not “bite” by putting the prey inside their mouth and biting with teeth. In fact, spiders do not have teeth or jaws. A spider “bite” is the spider using their fangs to inject venom into its prey. These fangs are sharp and hollow and attached internally to the venom gland. Spiders have some measure of control over their venom glands. Depending on the circumstances, spiders can choose how much venom to inject into their prey. A dry bite is a strike containing no venom at all. Often, a spider will inject venom based upon the size of its prey. For example, the spider will use less venom if biting a small gnat than when he bites a large cockroach. Against a large prey or when threatened, a spider may choose to inject the maximum amount of venom he has available.
Spider venom can be classified as either a neurotoxin or necrotic. Neurotoxic spider venom causes the nervous system to shut down. When an insect is captured by a spider with neurotoxin venom, nerve impulses are blocked to the muscles, the body becomes cramped, rigid, and immobile. After its death, the spider will make a meal of its immobilized prey.
The most notorious of the neurotoxic spiders is the widow spiders and the funnel web spiders found in Australia. Despite their savage reputation, widow spiders are actually quite docile and shy. Black widow spiders are not aggressive towards humans; they bite if they feel threatened. Because of their preferred habitats, humans may encounter them unintentionally and in surprising places, such as in and around cardboard boxes, rarely worn shoes, crevices of porch furniture, sheds and barns, cluttered and quiet areas, under wood piles and logs, and in crawl spaces. A black widow bite is usually defensive. It is precipitated by a human inadvertently disrupting its nest and surprising the spider.
If you are bitten by a widow spider you may not even know it at first. However, the area around the bite will begin to redden and swell within a few hours. You may experience tightness and pain in your chest and abdomen, cramps, and muscle spasms. You may experience difficulty breathing, fever, nausea and vomiting, headache, and an extreme increase in blood pressure. Most healthy adults can withstand the bite of a widow spider, but children, older adults, and immune compromised adults may experience the most severe symptoms.
Necrotic venom, or cytotoxic venom, such as that produced by recluse spiders, causes death to the tissue surrounding the bite. Necrotic venom is far less common amongst spider species. Necrotic venom causes burning, swelling, and irritation at the site of the bite. Some people develop a necrotic lesion which may appear as follows:
Dry sinking flesh
Redness around the lesion with a white center
Blueish appearance to the skin
Most healthy adults can recover from the bite of a brown recluse. However, small children and immune compromised individuals may have a more severe reaction. In some cases, the necrosis, or death of tissue, expands into a wound covering several inches in diameter. Other common effects of a necrotic venom include fever, chills, dizziness, and vomiting.
Spiders in Boats and Marinas
A very common complaint regarding spiders is their tendency to accumulate in great numbers at boat marinas. Traditional pesticides may not be able to be utilized in a marina because of the proximity to water. Many product labels prohibit their use within a certain number of feet from water. Marinas are prime spider hunting grounds; many insects, like mosquitoes and no-see-ums, need water to complete their life cycle. The proximity to water and the lights on the buildings encourage flying insects. There are many ledges and poles that spiders may spin their webs. Industrious spiders spin webs under the docks and inside boats that are stored at the marina. Cobwebs between the lines on the dock, between the floating boats, between the boat and the dock, and across the seats on the boats add up to a real first world problem.
As spiders eat the marina’s flying insects, they release poop onto the seats and deck of your boat. Spiders excrete a thick, liquid-like droppings which land on the surface beneath them. The droppings are white, grey, black, or brown. If caught early, spider poop is easily cleaned off. However, if the spider poop hardens and solidifies, it can be extremely difficult to remove and may even cause a permanent discoloration of the surface. There are many products marketed to boat owners to help remove this eyesore of spider feces. However, keeping a good coat of wax on the surface of the boat and working to prevent spiders on your boat in the first place is better than spending your free time scrubbing spider poo.
Web forums encourage frustrated boat owners to use products such as Tempo SC and Suspend SC to control spiders. Before using any product, always read and follow the label. The label is the law; if you violate the product’s label, you have violated federal law. The label for Tempo SC states, “This pesticide is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.” Under the Application Restrictions section of the Tempo SC label it states, “Application is prohibited directly into sewers or drains, or to any area like a gutter where drainage to sewers, storm drains, water bodies, or aquatic habitat can occur.” Responsible boat owners should always seek to protect the environment that they so enjoy. Please do not hose the dock and pilings down with pesticide out of spider fury.
An effective but somewhat time-consuming method of controlling spiders on a boat or in a marina is systematically removing the webs. With a duster head, destroy the webs as you see them. Spiders can pretty quickly and easily set up a new web and will continue to capture the endless supply of insects at the dock. Even if you convince your resident spider to move on and hunt elsewhere, another spider will quickly take its place. This method of control works best if you have easy access to your boat or dock. If your boat is docked in your backyard, you likely tinker out there often. Keep a duster head handy and knock down webs as you find them.
For additional spider control on your boat, dock, or marina, consider using a natural spider repellent product. The best natural spider repellents are formulated with essential oils such as thyme oil, rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, geraniol, citronella, and mixed with vinegar, alcohol, or mineral oil. As referenced above, check the label on the product that you choose. Only choose a spider repellent that is safe to use in the aquatic environment of your boat or marina. If you plan on using it near the water, EPA approved label should have no restrictions for on or near water. After you remove all of the webs from the area, spray the surfaces that may support spiders. This type of application will kill spiders on contact, repel or discourage spiders from coming into the area, and should they try to spin a web, it may prevent the web from sticking to the treated surface. The highest quality spider repellent only lasts for about 30 in an aquatic environment. Should you decide to spray for spiders on a boat or dock, ensure the product is labeled for your intended usage.
As a firm believer in practicing Integrated Pest Management, as part of a spiders program around marinas, special attention to she devoted to controlling the flying insects upon which the spiders feed. Eliminating or reducing breeding and harborage sites and applying treatments to affected areas will significantly reduce the volume of flying insects, thus making the area less desirable to spiders.
How to Prevent Spiders Around Your Home
As with any pest, it is more effective to proactively work to prevent an infestation that to tackle nature out of control. Preventing spiders in and around your home requires inspecting both indoors and outdoors. One of the most effective ways to prevent spiders to have regular preventative pest control. Consider adding mosquito service if mosquitoes are common in your area. Without the smorgasbord of ants, roaches, flies, and mosquitoes enticing spiders to hang around, they will usually move on to better hunting grounds.
Physical and Structural Methods to Prevent Spiders
Spiders frequent areas that are quiet and seldom used. Spiders would prefer not to be disturbed. Indoors they will nearly always be found near cluttered or storage areas, away from the activity hub of the home or business.
Dust and vacuum cracks and crevices regularly
Knock down webs early and often
Get rid of clutter
Place items needing long term storage in tightly sealed plastic bins
Inspect boxes, plants, and furniture before allowing them inside your home
Repair screens, windows, doors, and cracks
Keep bushes, shrubs, and vegetation away from the home
Reduce the amount of outdoor lighting used or switch to sodium vapor light bulbs
Move wood piles and other debris away from the home
Identify and remove spider harborages
Natural Spider Repellent
Despite manual and structural methods to prevent spiders, sometimes nature needs an extra push to move on. There are many spider repellents on the market containing botanical oils. These products may kill a spider if sprayed directly on the spider, but the goal of these types of products is to repel spiders. These products boast a strong odor, often consisting of thyme oil, rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, geraniol, and citronella. In theory, these odors cause the spider to flee your home and new spiders to choose not to construct a web near that odor. Research has shown that spiders do have a highly developed sense of smell.
These products should be reapplied as necessary, depending on conditions. Many of these products are organic and all natural. However, not all spider repellents are created equal. Some formulations are simply more effective than others. Look for a product that discloses the percentage of the oils aka active ingredients. Many of these products available online and in the big box stores do not disclose the percentage of peppermint and other oils. If they choose not to tell you, you must assume the concentration is very low and you are mostly purchasing water. In addition, many of these spider repellent products are oily and can stain some surfaces.
Ostrich Eggs to Repel Spiders
A more unusual method of keeping spiders at bay, is to hang ostrich eggs near spider activity. This idea dates back to early 1500’s when Mimar Sinan, chief Ottoman architect to the Sultans, hung ostrich eggs in the chandeliers of the mosques he constructed. Insects are attracted to lights, so naturally spiders would be drawn to the ornate crevices, rafters, and chandeliers of the Suleymaniye Mosque. Alas, the Suleymaniye Mosque did not suffer from spiders and other insects.
It is believed that ostrich eggs emit an odor that can not be smelled by humans, but detestable to insects… particularly spiders. In Turkey, ostrich eggs are currently used in greenhouses and in food storage areas in hopes that insects and spiders will be repelled. Ostrich eggs can weigh between 3 – 5 lbs. The eggs should be hung from the ceiling in a well-ventilated area. The ostrich egg should remain intact, not pierced or punctured. You can find ostrich eggs for sale in the United States for spider repellency purpose.
Integrated Pest Management for the Control of Spiders
Integrated Pest Management Principles teach us that there is some level of pests that may be acceptable. When dealing with spiders it is especially important to assess your spider control goals. Spiders are primarily beneficial, but in certain situations spiders’ interests are in conflict with our human interests. Cobwebs cluttering up your front door and picture window probably demands action. However, you may find the spiders in the trees at the rear of your property line acceptable. Some people find spider webs in their garden unacceptable, while others thank the spiders for eating insects from the garden.
Assessing where spiders are acceptable on your property, determines the steps you should take to control them. For many people, spiders in and around their home or business is deemed to be unacceptable, but spiders in the trees, shrubs, garden, and uncultivated portions of their property should not be bothered.
Spider control involves much more than a “spray it and forget it” approach. A complete spider program should address the spider’s food supply, spider web removal, preventing spider entry into the structure, and altering conditions to make the area less attractive to spiders. Spiders are not insects, but by utilizing the variety of tools available to a Professional Pest Management Professional, spider infestations can be controlled.
Generally speaking, spiders are quite shy and tend to avoid confrontation. When inspecting your home or business for spiders, you should wear gloves to prevent any surprised spider from biting you in self-defense. Indoors, inspect for spiders in areas of your home that are usually quiet and undisturbed. Storage boxes in the attic or basement are prime spider real estate. With a flashlight, look behind bookcases and other pieces of furniture in an unused room or under seldom used appliances.
Keep an eye out for cobwebs and spider droppings. As described above, spider droppings are small grey, white, or black pin-head size drops that harden and become very difficult to remove. Cobwebs are the silk webs spun by spiders of the family Theridiidae. These cobweb spiders create webs that appear messy and haphazardly constructed. These cobwebs eventually become abandoned by the spider and because they are sticky, begin to accumulate dust and other debris. Search high and low for cobwebs in unused rooms of your home.
During your inspection, you can always leave glueboards around the basement, storage boxes, in cabinets and anywhere else you suspect spiders. You can easily check the glueboards periodically to determine if spiders or insects that spiders may eat are present.
Inspecting for spiders outdoors involves looking for areas that may harbor spiders. Many species of outdoor spiders like to hide in wood piles uncut grass or shrubs near the foundation of your structure, in the eaves and around the crevices of doors and windows. In South Florida, where many homes have hurricane shutters, the cracks and crevices of these shutters provide shelter to spiders and lots of great angles from which to construct spider webs. Outdoors, pay special attention to areas that may be breeding grounds for insects. If a dripping faucet has become a mosquito breeding ground, chances are spiders will be close by. When you are inspecting the outdoor areas, be sure to make note of any cracks, crevices, broken windows or screens which could allow spiders or other insects access to your home.
Control Measures for Spider
Spiders are a tricky group of species. Truthfully, pesticides are less effective on spiders than most other pests. Not because pesticides don’t kill spiders, they do; but because spiders can easily avoid treated surfaces. Most web building spiders do not leave their web once it is constructed and can therefore avoid many pesticide applications. While insecticides are still a weapon used against spiders, there are other control measures that can reduce their populations and rid your front porch of webs and empty insect exoskeletons.
A duster head is one of the most effective weapons against a mild spider problem. The physical control method of removing the spider webs with a duster head on an extension pole, requires a regular commitment. Just like watering the plants on the back porch, commit to a schedule to remove the webs. Indoors, utilize the crevice tools of your vacuum to get into the tight spots. Every so often, move the furniture away from the wall, wipe it down and clean behind and underneath it. With a little effort, the spiders will move on and decide to try their luck elsewhere. Not to say, new spiders won’t try to take their place, but a quick sweep with your duster head should make quick work of a new web.
As mentioned above, if spiders inside your home tend to be a chronic problem, they are somehow finding their way inside. If you can find the entry hole and seal it up, the spiders will remain outdoors. Windows and doors are the most common spider entry areas. Look for screens that are split and check the edges of all your doors. If you can see light coming through the door, pests can sneak inside. Install a door sweep under the door to seal it and thwart the spider entry. In some situations, such as boats, netting or another physical covering can be fitted over the area to be protected. Specialized products have been developed to protect boats, RVs, docks, horse arenas, and tennis courts from spiders. These companies offer custom made solutions to spider problems.
Like so many pests we deal with, spiders gravitate towards areas with plentiful amounts of food. Spiders are present because they are finding an adequate supply of insects upon which to feast. Look at the webs. Can you identify any of the past meals? A Pest Management Professional can likely inspect a web and find wings and other remnants of meals enjoyed by that spider. Traces of roaches, ants, or termites in the spider web you found in the bathroom may indicate an infestation of one of these insects. By eliminating the roach infestation, you will likely force the spiders outdoors where they can find a reliable meal.
If despite barriers, aggressive destruction of webs, and sealing the entry areas you are still seeing more spiders that you are comfortable with, pesticide application is the next step. While most spiders are harmless to people, the bite of the brown recluse and the black widow spider is especially dangerous. Unless you have reason to believe that spiders are breeding or have hatched indoors, start with a pesticide application to the outside of your home. You will want to choose an insecticide that has a long residual. While insecticides can and are used against spiders, they are arachnids, not insects. Pesticides are chemically formulated to kill insects, so it is believed they may be less effective against spiders.
Another reason for not relying completely on insecticides against spiders is the nature of spiders. During a pest control application, you are unlikely to spray the target pest directly. Rather, you spray a surface, and when the pest walks across the surface, he contacts the insecticide, and the chemical compound causes his death. Now, think about the daily life of the spiders on your front porch. They spend very little time foraging about looking for food. In fact, they have very little contact with the surface of your home. Pesticides can be effective against spiders, but getting the pesticide to the web based spider can be a challenge.
An insecticide with a long residual works best for spiders. Residual time means the length of time the active ingredient remains effective. A non-residual insecticide kills immediately but will not kill a roach that walks across it tomorrow. An insecticide with a long residual will kill a roach that walks across it in the next 30 sometimes 60 days. An outdoor treatment that targets spiders should utilize a product with a long residual. The hope is when a spider crawls up to the highest corner of your front porch to create a web, she will contact the insecticide and die. The pesticide application must be in place before she builds her web. Once the spider creates her web, she will likely not leave it and therefore will not come into contact with the pesticide.
Before applying any pesticide, read the product label and note where it can be used and where use is prohibited. Each product has different limitations. With a hand-held sprayer spot treat around windows and doors and any place that cable or electrical lines enter the structure. Pay special attention to exterior lights and high protected corners. Underneath decks and eaves are also common spider harborages which are sometimes hard to reach. A backpack mist blower thoroughly applies pesticide to these hard-to-reach spider hideouts.
The Pest Control Industry as a whole is moving away from spraying chemicals indoors. For most insects, baits have been proven to be safer for people and pets and more effective against the battle of the bugs. However, baits are wholly ineffective against spiders. Spiders are predators, no matter how delectable the bait smells, they will not eat a glob of bait created in the lab. Some species of spiders will eat a freshly dead insect, but all spiders prefer a live capture. If you choose to treat indoors with an insecticide spray, be sure to choose one that is labeled for indoor use. Then, be sure to follow the guidelines on the label as to where the spray can be applied. The cracks and crevices of the interior may include the corners of windows and the corners of baseboards particularly in the basement. As spiders are most often found in areas that are seldom disturbed, use discretion and restraint when spraying bustling areas of the home or business.
It should be noted that if you chose to apply pesticide in the battle against spiders, the other control measures should not be ignored. As irritating as their webs can be, for the most part spiders are a partner in pest control and a multi-faceted control protocol is always warranted.
Common Spiders in Florida and Georgia
With over 45,000 species of spiders on Earth, many are rare and located in highly specific environments. Most spiders are harmless to humans, however the most notorious spiders are the ones whose bite can cause illness in humans, the black widow and the brown recluse. The other spiders we are naturally more familiar with are the ones that tend to make their way indoors and plant themselves in the highest corner of the living room.
Common House Spider
The Common House Spider, Achaearanea tepidariorum, is the spider that is most likely to be found in and around your home or business. The Common House Spider creates webs to capture prey, and if they web does not yield food, it is abandoned, and another web created. It is this tangled mess of abandoned webs that gets under our skin. The Common House Spider is often found in areas where air currents may bring a buffet of insects. They are common in sheds, garages, barns, and warehouses. Indoors, they can be found in upper corners, closets, basements and crawl spaces, and in the angles of window frames. The Common House Spider constructs webs both on the inside and outside of buildings. Interestingly enough, the Common House Spider is not that common in the wild. It seems to prefer to live in close proximity to humans, on our buildings, bridges, and culverts.
The female Common House Spider is usually between 4-8 mm in length, while the male is usually 4mm in length. The female Common House Spider lives for about 1 year and may produce up nearly 4,000 eggs in her lifetime. The Common House Spider is not considered dangerous to humans; only a single incident of a serious allergic reaction to a bite has been documented.
Southern House Spider
The Southern House Spider is the large arachnid that nightmares are made of. If you have a tendency toward arachnophobia, it is likely because this large spider has planted itself in your living room. The Southern House Spider is common in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama and other areas of the South. The Southern House Spider of both sexes grows to be about 2 inches in diameter. The males have longer legs than the females, and are commonly mistaken for the notorious brown recluse because of their similar brown coloring and shape. The female Southern House Spider is charcoal in color and her body is rounder and bulging than the male and she has shorter legs.
Southern House Spiders are sometimes called Southern Crevice Spiders because of their tendency to hide and nest in tight crevices. The male Southern House Spider is the one that we more commonly see, he does not nest, instead he wanders in search of a mate and food. When a male Southern House Spider is approached, he has an unnerving habit of steadfastly approaching anything in its path. He is not aggressive, he is nearly blind, and will often play dead if he feels threatened. The Southern House Spider’s bite rarely breaks human skin.
Orb Weaver Spiders
Orb Weaver Spiders are in the family Araneidae. There are more than 3,500 different species of spiders included in this family. The Orb Weaver Spiders are most easily recognized by the webs they create. The word Orb, meaning circular, tells us that they create large circular webs. The Orb Weaver’s webs closely resemble the stereotypical circular spider web Halloween decoration. The circle is connected with silk in organized grid shaped patterns like the spokes of a wheel. Some species of orb weaver spiders spin webs up to 3 feet in diameter. Orb weavers can repair their webs, but some species consume the web once they have determined to start anew.
The diversity observed amongst Orb Weaver Spiders is astounding. Orb Weavers are rarely found indoors, rather in the woods, around light fixtures, between fence posts, tree branches or bushes; anywhere plenty of insects and strong structures can be found. Orb Weavers are nocturnal, creating their intricate webs at night. If you have ever walked out to your car in the morning and been captured by a large web suspended over your porch, it was likely the night time work of an Orb Weaver Spider. Orb Weavers are not dangerous to humans, and many people consider them beneficial as they just may capture that fly before it finds its way inside.
Wolf Spiders are one of the largest spiders in Florida and Georgia, but they do not rely on webs to capture their prey. Instead, they actively hunt for insects to consume. They have excellent eyesight and sometimes wait and pounce on an insect passing by, or they may actively chase their meal. If actively hunting prey, wolf spiders can make their way indoors, but generally they are found amongst the leaf litter and grass outdoors. Wolf Spiders are well adapted to many different environments and thrive in both suburban neighborhoods and open grasslands and fields, vegetation along waterways, and wooded areas; anywhere insects are present.
Because Wolf Spiders are active hunters, they do make it indoors. They are large, up to 2 inches in diameter, extremely hairy, and can elicit extreme fear in those afflicted with arachnophobia. They move quickly, like a wolf, but are not considered a threat to humans. They will bite if threatened, but their venom generally only causes mild swelling, redness, and irritation. They are brown and grey with horizontal stripes. Especially in the instance of a bite, they are often mis-identified as a brown recluse.
Wolf Spiders are unique in the way the females care for their eggs and their young. The majority of spider species lay eggs and encase them in a sac that is either left on the web or burrowed in the ground. The female Wolf Spider is unique in that she carries her eggs underneath her body. When the eggs are ready to hatch, she helps them by tearing open the sack. The Wolf Spider spiderlings stay with the mother for a few weeks, hitching a ride on her back.
Huntsman Spiders/Banana Spiders
The Pantropical Huntsman Spider, commonly called the Cane Spider or the Banana Spider is often found in the tropical environment of Florida and the coastal areas of Georgia. They are sometimes referred to as Banana Spiders because they are commonly found in shipments of bananas from the tropics. The Cane Spider is the local term for this spider in Hawaii.
Adult Huntsman Spiders have a leg span ranging from 3 to 5 inches. They are brown in color with tan markings. Like most other spider species of this color and size, the Pantropical Huntsman Spider is often confused with a large Brown Recluse Spider. It can be distinguished visually by its flattened body shape and black spots on its legs.
Huntsman spiders do not make webs, rather they quickly pounce on peri-domestic insects and inject venom with their strong jaws. The Huntsman Spider is well adapted to living closely with humans but is not tolerant of cold weather. This tropical species tends to make its way indoors in the winter, or may be found in greenhouses and sheds to escape the cold. Indoors, the Huntsman Spider may be found under furniture or cabinets, behind pictures, or in closets. If threatened or trapped, the Huntsman Spider will bite, but it is rarely more serious than localized pain and swelling.
Jumping Spiders, or spiders of the Salticidae family, are the largest family of spiders with over 6,000 species. Some jumping spiders, such as the peacock spider, boast a variety of bright colors and unique patterns. Amongst jumping spiders we see bright fluorescent greens, turquoise, reds, and yellows. Jumping spiders do not build webs, rather they jump on their prey. Named for their jumping abilities, most jumping spiders can jump several times the length of their body. An internal hydraulic pressure system allows for this impressive physical feat. They can change the pressure of the fluid within their bodies, enabling this long jump. Before they jump, many species of jumping spiders tether a filament of silk, so that he can find his way back to his nest after the long jump.
There are 2 species of jumping spiders in Florida, the Gray Wall Jumper and the Pantropical Jumper. Both are medium to large sized spiders, adults ranging from 8-12 mm in length. Jumping spiders are harmless to humans, but if bit by a larger jumping spider, the bite will be locally painful. As these spiders do not make and abandon unsightly webs, rather simply eat mosquitos, flies, roaches, and ants, most people do not consider them a pest.
Brown widow spiders are a spider species of some concern that is present in the southern United States. Brown widow spiders vary greatly in their colorings, female may be white, grey, dark brown, light brown, or nearly brown. Lighter colored brown widow spiders have clearly defined dark banding around their legs. In darker colored brown widow spiders, a yellowish-orange hourglass shape may be visible as opposed to the bright red marking of the black widow. Brown widow spiders are web builders and may commonly be found in eves of buildings, ledges or wooden fences.
Like all spiders, Brown Widow Spiders are venomous. The male brown widow is not a threat to humans as his fangs are too small to pierce vertebrates’ skin. The female Brown Widow can bite humans and possesses a potent neurotoxin. However, when she bites, the amount of venom injected is less than the Black Widow. In addition, Brown Widow spiders do not defend their webs and almost never bite. In laboratory conditions, when the Brown Widow spider was persistently provoked, she first retreated, then played dead. Despite their powerful venom, Brown Widow Spiders would rather play dead than attack a human. Considering the high numbers of Brown Widow Spiders in some areas, a Brown Widow bite is quite rare.
Black Widow spiders earned their name from the observation that they eat their mate once she has no further use for him. While many species of spiders eat their mates after copulation, the female black widows seem to do it more often in crowded lab conditions than in the wild.
The Southern Black Widow Spider is found all across the southern United States and as far west as Texas. Black Widow spiders are a glossy black and the females have a characteristic bright red hourglass figure on her abdomen. The female Black Widow is typically 3.75 – 5 cm in length, including her legs. The male Black Widow is smaller than the female, and does NOT have the red hourglass figure, however he may have bright red spots on his abdomen.
Outdoor habitats for Black Widow spiders include rock and wood piles, hollowed out tree stumps, and even rodent burrows. Black Widow Spiders are much more likely to bite when disturbed than the Brown Widow Spider. Wear gardening gloves when moving rocks or wood piles. Most spider bites occur because the spider’s environment has been disturbed. Special care should be taken when working in the shed or a barn. Shake out gloves and shoes that have been stored outdoors.
Despite the powerful venom, death from a Black Widow spider in the United States is rare. In fact, a 2011 journal article published in the Permanente Journal, states that there are 3 documented cases of a widow bite causing human death, 2 in Madagascar and 1 instance in Greece. About 2,500 Black Widow Spider bites are self-reported in the United States each year. Treatment protocols involve administering pain killers, muscle relaxants, and wound care management. These treatments are aimed at providing relief from the symptoms, while waiting for the venom to abate. Antivenom is available, but it is sparingly utilized for fear of hypersensitivity.
As mentioned above there are many species of spiders prevalent in Florida and Georgia that closely resemble the brown recluse spider. As a result, the brown recluse is often “blamed for” spider bites that he is not guilty of. Often when a spider bites, he is not captured. All the victim of the spider bite can say is, “It was a brown spider.” This leads well-intentioned and cautious doctors to assume that it was a brown recluse spider, and they treat it as such.
Entomologists confirm that brown recluse spiders are not widespread in Florida’s landscape. However, they can stow away and inadvertently travel into the state. Confirmed specimens of brown recluse spiders in Florida have only been found in warehouses, vehicles, storage units, and records retention facilities. A single brown recluse spider bite in Florida has been confirmed via a specimen. It was on a naval ship that had recently arrived in Jacksonville, Florida. These confirmed sightings are all transient in nature; there is no evidence that these spiders are established in our homes and yards.
Spiders are beneficial to the environment, providing the most natural form of pest control, and provide unparalleled beauty and wonder. They also elicit extreme anxiety in some people, and frustration with their webs. On rare occasions they bite and inject their potentially dangerous venom into unsuspecting humans. When deciding whether and how to treat your home or business for spiders, depends on many factors including the benefits they provide. Here at Nextgen Pest Solutions, we can inspect your home or business and custom tailor a treatment plan to keep spiders and insects of all kinds out of your home for good.