The last thing many of us want to share our home with is a spider; but some of them can actually be beneficial, eating roaches, flies, mosquitoes, and other pests that we ALSO don’t want around our homes. Regardless of whether we want them or not, spiders are one of the most common household pests we encounter.
Spiders typically lay their eggs in the fall and the young hatchlings will then spend the cold winter months inside their warm egg sacs until spring. These cold-blooded arachnids become less active when the weather cools off, with some of them even going dormant over the winter. Most spiders that live in the temperate zones (AKA where we live) have natural antifreeze in their systems that keep them from dying at temperatures down to -5 degrees Celsius! Others, however, will make their way indoors following their food source as they overwinter inside your home.
Which spiders are most common in the fall and which ones should you avoid? Let’s take a look at these common fall spiders:
The house spider, also known as the American house spider, cobweb spider, and domestic spider, is one of many house spider species found throughout the United States. These spiders are smaller than some of their more prominent cousins, usually about the size of a nickel. They have round abdomens and are usually gray or brown in color, although some can also have white markings. They have long skinny legs with comb-like hairs. House spiders are known to build tangled, messy looking webs (think cobwebs in the corner of your ceiling). They like dark, concealed areas like corners, cabinets, basements, and garages. They can remain still for extremely long periods of time and will even play dead if they are threatened. They aren’t aggressive, though, and won’t harm humans.
There are 200+ species of wolf spider in existence that range in size from 1/2″ up to 1-1/2″. These spiders can be gray, brown, or black and often have a mottled and hairy appearance. They are often confused with tarantulas. Wolf spiders are nomadic – they don’t build webs and hunt for their prey instead. They are nocturnal, hunting at night and hiding during the day. They are often found in basements, sheds, garages, under piles of debris, and in gaps in walls and siding. Their eyes are reflective and are easily seen when a flashlight is shone on them. Wolf spiders mate in the fall, after which the males die and the females overwinter. Once the eggs hatch, the young spiders climb on their mom’s back and spend the summer there. These spiders are not harmful to humans but will bite if threatened.
There are 300+ species of the jumping spider in the United States with colors varying from solid black to striped; some even have iridescent markings. They are a smaller species, usually measuring 4mm to 9 mm in length. Jumping spiders are famous for having a very large set of eyes in the middle front of their heads. These spiders can be found anywhere in your home. They don’t build webs and are active daytime hunters. In fact, they will jump over any obstacles (people, pets, furniture, etc) in their pursuit of their prey. They will also jump away when threatened. They are usually not aggressive but will bite in defense. Their bite is not harmful to humans.
There are various species of orb weavers throughout the world. They can be brown, gray, orange, black, or yellow in color, though most usually have smooth abdomens. They have bulbous abdomens and very long legs. Males are usually around 6 mm long while females are much larger, ranging anywhere from 1/4″ to 1″ in length. Orb weavers are known for building extremely large, circular webs which they tear down each day and rebuild. These webs are built to catch flying insects they eat each day. They are common in gardens and trees but can also be found in tall grass, porches, and eaves of homes. They are usually found upside down in the middle of their webs. They love to eat mosquitoes and can be quite beneficial to have around. They are not aggressive, although they can bite if they feel threatened.
One of the most easily recognizable spider species, the black widow has a shiny black appearance with a red hourglass shape on the underside of its abdomen. These red markings can also run up their back. Males are much smaller than females with the average size between 1/4″ and 1/2″. These spiders are most common in the southern United States. Black widows will hide in mailboxes, garages, tall grass, under rocks, in the openings of rodent holes, and in outbuildings (sheds, barns, etc). After mating, females are known to eat males, hence the name black “widow.” A spider bite from a black widow is harmful to humans, often causing pain, muscle stiffness, nausea and vomiting. If you suspect you have been bitten by a black widow spider, seek medical treatment immediately.
The brown recluse spider is a brown to grey spider with lighter colored legs and a distinctive violin-shaped marking on its head and down its back. This spider, also known as the violin spider and fiddleback spider, is about 1/4″ to 1/2″ in length and found throughout the southern United States and west to California. Brown recluse spiders only have 6 eyes while most other spiders have 8. These spiders are often found in undisturbed corners of homes, in sheds, basements, and cellars. Inside, they are often found (and will bite) in folded sheets and towels, under piles of clothes on the floor, and in shoes left in the closet. It’s usually a good idea to shake out your clothes or shoes before putting them on if you live in an area where these spiders are common. A bite from a brown recluse is harmful to humans as they often cause necrotizing wounds (where the cells and tissue around the bite die off). If you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek medical treatment immediately.
Although most spiders can be quite helpful to have around, others can cause significant harm to humans if a spider bite occurs. If you have a problem with spiders or any other household pests, contact your local pest control company for a free evaluation.