There aren’t very many people who like spiders. In fact, most people really prefer to stay as far away from most spiders as they can get. They do seem kind of creepy with all those legs and their almost invisible and sticky webs. (Do you recall the movie “Arachnophobia”?) And some spiders can bite. With these things in mind it’s not hard to understand why people just don’t care to spend quality time with these creatures.
Spiders are not insects or “bugs”. They belong to an entirely different group of creatures known as the “arachnids” (meaning 8 legs). Spiders are among nature’s most efficient hunters. Some spiders spin webs, set traps, or hunt like mountain lions for their prey. In short, they can be fascinating creatures. But they can also be a significant pest when they want to live with us.
Spiders are extremely persistent, so we must be persistent as well. Routine service work is about the only way to maintain any degree of effective long term control of spider problems. Our regular services are designed to kill as many spiders as we can and to take steps to discourage the survivors from re-infesting.
There are far too many different kinds of spiders in our area to list them all here. Instead we will spend a little time on some of the more common spiders and the spiders people ask about most frequently. If you are interested in learning more about spiders we encourage you to type “spiders” in the search box of your favorite search engine and read on!
Black Widow Spiders
Black Widow spiders inhabit most of the warmer regions of the world. They belong to a group of spiders known as the Cobweb Weavers, of which they are the largest. There are about a half dozen species of Black Widow spiders spread all over the world. Three species commonly occur in the United States. The Black Widow common to the central San Joaquin Valley is Latrodectus hesperus. L. mactans occurs mostly in the central and eastern U.S.
The venom of the Black Widow spider is a potent neurotoxin. (Neurotoxins attack the nervous system.) There is seldom any pain at the time of the bite. The only immediate evidence on the skin may be a pair of small red spots where the venom was injected. Within a few minutes to an hour or so some localized pain may occur followed by muscle cramps, abdominal pain, weakness and tremor. In severe cases, nausea, vomiting, faintness, dizziness, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties may follow. Localized swelling may appear around the site of the bite. (See photo at right.) In some cases the abdominal pain may mimic such conditions as appendicitis or gallbladder problems. Chest pains may be mistaken for a heart attack.
People rarely die from a black widow's bite. Life-threatening reactions are generally seen only in small children and the elderly. However, professional medical care is recommended.
Control of Black Widow spiders is similar to any spider control program. Frequent removal of webs and keeping storage areas free of clutter and debris will go a long way toward discouraging spiders in general. We have products which are extremely effective on spiders and routine services coupled with your efforts toward sanitation are your best defense.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown Recluse (or Fiddleback) spiders do not occur naturally in central California. The map below illustrates the normal range of these creatures. The bite of the Brown Recluse spider can be very serious and, in some cases, result in permanent tissue damage and disfigurement. If, for some reason, you believe you may have been bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, you should seek immediate medical attention for the bite.
The name “Wolf Spider” may be applied to any of over 2,000 species of ground dwelling hunting spiders. Most Wolf Spiders do not spin webs, but rather hunt for their prey like their mammalian namesakes. Many Wolf Spiders are large, and many species exhibit body “hairs” that, again, add to their image of miniature wolves.
Wolf spiders are not considered a serious health risk. Their bites are rare and usually harmless. But almost all spiders are capable of biting. Many can even inject the venom they use to kill their prey. If you choose to handle these creatures keep this in mind.
The Orb Weavers are another large group of spiders. They may be found in virtually every temperate region of the planet. The size, color and appearance of the many species may vary from small, straw-colored stick-like spiders to very large, highly colorful creatures. I recall almost walking face-first into a yellow orb weaver in a Georgia swamp. This lady could easily have touched all the edges of a dollar bill with her legs. Her beautiful web was the size of my workbench at home.
Orb Weavers, like most spiders, can bite. The larger specimens can inject enough venom to cause some pain and even make someone sick. They are beautiful creatures, but should be treated with respect.
Cellar spiders are the bane of the homeowner who doesn’t like spider webs on her house. In some areas these harmless arachnids can be extremely persistent. There are several species of cellar spiders within this group, but for practical purposes, that really doesn’t matter. The Cellar spider shares a common name “Daddy Long Legs” with another creature, the Harvestman. The Harvestman isn’t actually a spider, but a member of another group of closely related creatures.
The Daddy Long Legs has been referred to as the “most venomous spider in the world”. It is unclear which of the two creatures this myth refers to, but there is very little evidence that it is true of either one.
Control of Cellar Spiders is the same as control of most other species of spiders. Elimination of harborage areas, routinely destroying their webs, and regular pest control services will usually provide a satisfactory level of control. Persistent problems may require increased service frequency, especially during the warmer months of the year.