Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears in the United States, but is it a justified one? There are currently more than 38,000 identified species of spiders in the world. Only about 4,000 of those species can be found in North America. Of those, slightly more than 1 percent can pose a danger to humans. But in general, spiders don’t typically bite. So why are people so afraid of these eight-legged creatures?
There are four general spider types. They include active hunters, web spinners, ambushers and burrowers. The ones that commonly affect homeowners are hunters and web builders.
The active hunters
There are a large variety of spiders considered to be active hunters. These spider types do not build webs. Instead, they rely on agility and speed to pounce on their prey. Active hunters live primarily outdoors, but sometimes wander inside by accident. They do not reproduce well indoors and, thus, rarely occur in large numbers.
Controlling active hunters can be a challenge. When homeowners interact with this type of spider, it is likely to be a different type of spider every time. Some common home invaders include wolf spiders, ground spiders, woodlouse spiders and jumping spiders. Each of these spider types may require a different control method. For that reason, it is best to start by sealing entryways to prevent them from entering your home in the first place.
The web builders
Web building spiders are more likely to draw the attention of homeowners due to their creation of large webs and ability to reproduce indoors. They are especially effective at forming big populations in basements. These spider types live on or near their web and prefer to find building spots that are unlikely to be disturbed.
Instead of actively hunting, web builders wait for their prey to come to them. While active hunters typically have good eyesight, these types of spiders most often do not, and rely on sensing vibrations instead. Control methods for these spiders can be effective, especially with large populations. Common web builders that infest homes include cellar spiders, orb weavers, funnel weavers and comb-footed spiders.
The spiders with a bite
There are two genera of spiders that are cause for medical concern, which are widow spiders and recluse spiders. Both belong to the Theridiidae family. These spiders are notable because their venom can cause serious harm.
Widow (Latrodectus spp.)
At least 32 different species of widows have been identified to date. Most have shiny black bodies and bright red markings. This red marking is most notably shaped like an hourglass, although some species may have red stripes or spots instead. One species, L. geometricus, is brown with tan stripes and an orange-colored hourglass.
Widows are found worldwide, with at least five species occurring throughout North America, although the two most commonly found in houses are L. mactans and L. hesperus. Both of these spider types are black with a red hourglass shape on the upper side of their abdomens.
Recluse (Loxosceles spp.)
About 100 species of recluse spiders have been identified to date. At least 11 native and two non-native species have been discovered in the United States. Recluse spiders readily invade homes and prefer to live in tight spaces, sometimes taking cover in shoes or gardening gloves. They are brown or dark brown in color and are most likely to be found on rough surfaces like cardboard, paper or wood.
While these spider types are not commonly aggressive, they have potent, tissue-destroying venom that can sometimes cause lesions on a person that has been bitten.
Terminix can accurately identify the types of spiders in your home and recommend the best method of control. The appearance of a single spider may not be a major concern, but multiple spiders of the same type can be effectively treated by a Terminix® expert.