Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders!
There are over 3,800 spider species in North America. Just to let you breathe easier, you'll be happy to know the majority of them live outdoors, away from our homes. Experts say about 30 species are known to be synanthropic (lives in association with humans). Now isn't that a relief!
You're probably wondering with all these spiders around, aren't they a threat to my family and me? In North America only the widow spiders and recluse spiders are of medical concern. Almost all spiders have venom, so the potential is there for some people to have an allergic reaction to a bite. One interesting fact is, spiders are able to control the amount of venom released, so some bites could have little to no venom injected.
There are four native species of widow spiders found in North America, The Southern Black Widow, Northern Black Widow, Western Black Widow and the Red widow. The Brown Widow is an introduced species. The red or reddish hourglass on the underside of the abdomen is a key identification characteristic. The egg sac from the Brown Widow has small soft spikes or orbs on its surface, while native widow eggs sacs are smooth surfaced in comparison.
There are six native species of recluse spiders found in North America, with the Brown Recluse spider having the largest range. There are also two introduced species found occasionally. The Mediterranean Recluse and the Chilean Recluse. Key identification characteristics would be the often apparent fiddle shape mark on the cephalothorax and the three pair of eyes. Most other spiders have four pair of eyes.
Here are some facts about spider bites in general:
-Many believe spider bites are quite common, which simply is not true.
-Spiders have no interest in us as a food source.
-They feed on insects and other invertebrates, not on human blood.
-The truth is spider bites are quite rare, that's the reality of it.
There are many insects that do sting, bite and feed upon us. We have mosquitos, fleas, ticks and bed bugs, just to name a few. These known blood feeders have the potential to cause a reaction from our bodies that may be, and often are, misdiagnosed as a spider bite.
So, what can be done to keep spider populations down? Inside clutter such as boxes, paper, clothing, etc., should be discouraged. Outside debris such as lumber piles, firewood, stones or bricks, landscape timbers, etc., should be moved away from your home. Grass should be cut at the recommended height and shrubs should not come in contact with your home and other structures on your property.
Now, go get busy cleaning up for spring and don't get overly excited when seeing a spider or two. They are not your enemy!
Written by our friend Daniel D. Dye II A.C.E.