“You’re never more than 6 feet from a spider.” Some people actually say 3 feet. That’s a popular myth. Along with it come stories of how spiders want to lay eggs in your skin. Stories about how they are everywhere and want to terrify you with their “too many eyes” or worse. In 1995, arachnopogist, Professor Norman Platnick began an article with,

Wherever you sit as you read these lines, a spider is probably no more than a few yards away.”

This is probably technically true, as long as you remember the “probably” part. These lines from Platnick so impressed people that the lines kept getting repeated and modified for more than 20 years.

The truth is that all but a few kinds of spiders are completely harmless and shy. The trouble is, they are extremely ugly.

  • In a study at the City University of London in 1991 scientists interviewed 118 students and found half of them (75% were females) were fearful of spiders.
  • The study identified no clear causes of the fear. The people who feared spiders had no particular bad experiences of them.
  • They indicated that the fear came from spider’s inherent qualities, their “legginess,” “sudden movement,” “hairiness,” “crawliness” and the like.
  • In fact in a group of children in 1997, Peter Muris at the University of Maastricht found that fear of spiders was the worst fear that children had, worse than fear of being kidnapped, predators, the dark, or being hit by a car.
  • Other studies have found that fear of spiders may be inherited, may be an inherent human characteristic.

There are plenty of spider advocates out there who feel that spiders in your home are not only inevitable, but beneficial. Clearly spiders kill insects such as flies, moths, gnats, mosquitos and the like in great numbers.

There are many people who simply adopt a live-and-let-live attitude about spiders, taking advantage of the kinds of benefits they bring.

  • They eat pests.
  • They kill other spiders–thus keeping their own numbers down. The long-legged cellar spider is known to kill black widow spiders which makes it a powerful ally.
  • They kill disease carrying bugs.

What harm can spiders do in the home?

Spider season occurs in the Autumn. That’s when males search for mates. As the weather gets colder, spiders begin hunting for places to live over the winter. You will find a few of them in your home.

All houses have spiders in them, most of them go unnoticed. If you can overcome your fear of them, you can have faith that they will not fall as they crawl across your ceiling.

  • Never grab or touch a spider. They will bite only when they are threatened.
  • Occasionally spiders may bite if they are disturbed at close range. It rarely causes more than a skin irritation.
  • Rarely, the site of a spider bite may become infected.

What spider bites are dangerous?

Two spider groups, occurring mainly in the southern and western United States, have bites that can cause serious harm, the black widow and the brown recluse spider. If you are bitten by either of these, seek immediate medical help.

  • Female black widows have a shiny black body with a distinctive bright red hour-glass-like shape on their abdomens. They may be found in barns, sheds or lawn furniture. Rarely are they found indoors.
  • If a female black widow bites, the toxin causes effects through the body starting after an hour. There may be muscle cramps and dull pain. It can cause seizures.
  • Brown recluse spiders take residence in warm, dry and dark environments like basements and closets.
  • They bite only when they are surprised and feel trapped.
  • Sometimes, they may live in an article of clothing and bite when the item is slipped on.
  • The bite may take three hours to develop and three weeks to heal. It can cause serious allergic reactions and children, the elderly, or people with preexisting medical conditions.
  • Probably the most common negative effect of spiders is that the sticky silk in spider webs attract dirt when it is broken or detached, floats in the air, or tangles with dirt to form “dust bunnies.”
  • Cobwebs (abandoned webs) are repositories of dust which commonly contribute to allergic reactions and asthma.

How to eliminate spiders

Sealing homes to prevent spiders from entering the home is the best way of eliminating spiders.

  • Few spiders feel comfortable living indoors.
  • If you eliminate the presence of insects on which spiders feed, they will not settle in your home.
  • If you get a professional help to rid your home of spiders you find objectionable, you must follow-up by sealing the entryways through which the insects come and through which the spiders will follow them.

Since 2001, Miller the Killer pest control has been giving residents of Des Moines peace of mind when it comes to pest management. Please contact us to see how we can help.