Can Spiders Harm Your Pets?
Spiders can strike fear in the hearts of some homeowners. There are more than 4,000 species of spiders in the United States, and a handful of them may make their way into your house, although most are harmless.
There are a few species that do pose a threat, though. And if you’re a pet owner, it’s not just your own safety that you have to worry about. After all, your furry friends are part of the family too.
Knowing which spiders are friends and which are foes will help you keep everyone in your home safe and healthy.
Common Types of Spiders Considered Generally Safe
There are many spiders that may wander into your home, and some house spiders may even be born inside. Don’t worry, though. If you see one of these spiders crawling across your floor, it probably won’t harm you or your pets. Here are some spiders that are actually considered generally safe:
Domestic House Spider
These brownish-gray spiders are funnel-web builders, and they favor undisturbed spaces like attics, basements, storage rooms and the areas behind furniture. Domestic house spiders are typically found in California, the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Oregon. Their bite is not harmful.
These small spiders average a half inch or less in length. As their name implies, they are known for their ability to jump. They may be black or gray with bright markings, and they’re active during the day, which means they’re more likely to be seen as opposed to nocturnal pests. Jumping spiders live outside and can be found on foliage, fences and decks. If they are present in your home, they most likely found their way inside by mistake.
Yellow Sac Spider
Pale yellow or beige, the yellow sac spider can be seen along baseboards and behind picture frames. Found across the eastern United States, they’re active at night and feed on other insects and spiders. They can bite people, but their bites are not typically harmful and may result in small, hardened red areas.
Wolf spiders are large, measuring up to an inch and a half in length. In fact, they are sometimes mistaken for tarantulas. These spiders typically don’t bite unless they are threatened or provoked. Wolf spiders may enter homes through cracks or under doors while seeking shelter from extreme temperatures or while chasing prey. They are venomous, like most spiders, but their venom is generally not a threat to humans (again, like most spiders).
Native to the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Idaho and Oregon, the hobo spider is a funnel-web spider that is brownish-gray in color and up to three-quarters of an inch in length. These spiders can enter homes through holes and cracks in basements, crawl spaces and garages, and they may hide in shoes, in clothes or under covers. Hobo spiders will bite in self-defense, and their bite is similar to that of a brown recluse.
Common Types of Spiders Considered Cause for Concern
While many spiders aren't necessarily harmful, some have bites that are harmful to pets and humans, making them a cause for concern. If you think you have a spider bite, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for disinfection and consult your doctor.
Keep your eyes out for these potentially harmful spiders in and around your home:
One of the most easily identifiable spiders there is, the female black widow is known for her shiny black body and characteristic red hourglass marking on her back. The black widow’s potent bite makes it one of the most dangerous spiders in the country, and its range extends across the United States, particularly the south and west. These spiders are found in piles of debris outside, but they can also be found in undisturbed areas of your home.
The brown recluse has a venomous bite that can be harmful to pets and may require medical attention in humans. Found throughout the midwestern and southern United States, these spiders prefer to stay out of the limelight and often retreat to sheltered areas. They will frequently enter homes, and they can be found in shoes, dark closets and attics. Nicknamed the “violin” or “fiddleback,” these spiders are brown and identifiable by the violin-shaped marks on their backs. However, it’s important to note that there are other spiders with violin-shaped markings and they aren’t all dangerous to people or pets.
How to Help Control Spiders
If you’re concerned that spiders may be harmful to you and your pets, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent them from entering your home:
- Trim the vegetation outside your home
- Seal cracks and holes on your home’s exterior
- Add tight-fitting screens to attic and foundation vents, while being sure to follow building code
- Seal holes around pipes
Harmless or not, spiders are unwelcome guests in your home. For help controlling them, contact a pest control professional.