The Ins and Outs of Cobwebs

Spider Web Des Moines


Scientists say that most cobwebs are made by cobweb spiders of the family, Theridiidae. The common house spider is the usual culprit. However, the notorious black widow spider also belongs to this group as well as the long-legged cellar spider. All these spiders make loose irregular webs out of sticky strands of silk, mostly in dark places. Cobwebs are very often the remnants of webs that have been broken, or unproductive webs which are abandoned when the spider decides to seek a new location. Male spiders often leave their webs to seek mates, and very often don’t come back.

Some stray strands of cobweb never were part of a web. Some are draglines pulled about by jumping spiders, used to attach themselves to the high places they may be jumping from. Single filaments of spider silk can get into the air stream and float around until they get caught on a piece of furniture or land on the floor of your home. Some spiders attach strands of silk to their eggs to act as aerial parachutes to disburse the eggs using the wind. Sometimes the silk is made, not by spiders but by moth larvae that make silk escape lines which can break loose and float into the air.

Some spider silk strands are very sticky to enable the spider to trap its prey, or enables it to easily attach to surfaces. That’s what causes the silk to attach to bits of fabric thread or submicroscopic bits of flotsam. The mass can become the core of a dust bunny or just be an ugly attachment to furniture that symbolize age and disuse.

The word “cob” in cobweb links the cobweb to ancient English culture and gives you a sense of how long humans have lived with cobwebs. The old English word “cob” means “head or top,” as in corn cob. However the Middle English word for spider is “coppe” which may have gradually become the word “cob.”

Cobwebs and Health

Historians tell us that spider silk from cobwebs or live webs were used since ancient times to staunch bleeding. When placed in bleeding wounds, the silk causes the blood to clot. Some say that cobwebs contain an amount of penicillin mold that can reduce the risk of infection.

Maybe pure spider silk has some redeeming health qualities, but cobwebs are just repositories of dust. The impact of dust on health is much less positive. Mold trapped in dust can cause respiratory problems and can trigger asthma attacks. The long-term presence of indoor mold, trapped in cobwebs or dust bunnies can become unhealthy for anyone, especially for babies and children, the elderly, anyone with chronic respiratory conditions or those with weakened immune systems.

Getting Rid of Cobwebs

The best way to stop spiders from leaving their cobwebs is to eliminate the spiders or keep the spiders from getting into the house to begin with. Staying on top of a spider infestation can stop the problem before it starts.

Spiders often seek the shelter of homes in the late fall and early winter. It would help to seal any cracks in the outside walls through which spiders can wriggle. Spiders follow insect food sources indoors. If you could get rid of other crawlies, the spiders would be less likely to invade. They would eventually find other locations or die of starvation.

The footpads of the spiders are where the smell/taste senses are most concentrated. Those organs are irritated by citrus sprays, like lemon juice. If you spray citrus oils on window and door frames it will repel most spiders.

Many people still feel that the only way to eliminate the cobweb/spider problem for the long-term is to get professional help. Then, after the spiders are eliminated, keep screens well fitted and the windows and doors well sealed.

Since 2001, locally owned and operated Miller Pest & Termite has been giving Des Moines area clients peace of mind when it comes to pest management. Please contact us today to find out about our Des Moines spider control treatment options.