Arachnophobia. One of the most well-known phobias on the planet describes a fear of these eight-legged creatures. They have been the villains and monsters in fiction for generations. Even in art and media depicting otherworldly creatures, when the artist wants you to know that a creature is dangerous or terrifying, they make it look like a spider. Yet, for all of the fear these creatures cause, they can be one of the more helpful species for a human to find taking up residence in their home.
Spiders, fairly notoriously, are amazing at pest population management. An individual spider is estimated to eat around 2000 insects a year. For gardeners, attracting spiders to your plants can be an amazing benefit. Spiders, unlike most other predators of insects, don’t eat plants at all. A spider in the garden will eat invading plant-destroying species while leaving your plants entirely alone. The only negative side is that spiders are opportunistic hunters and will also eat beneficial insects, such as butterflies or other spiders.
That is not to say the fear of spiders is entirely unwarranted. Spiders of all species have been known to bite humans if they feel threatened. Common reactions to spider bites are large, inflamed, itchy areas of skin. In some cases, there can even be some necrosing on infected areas of the skin. These reactions can be significantly worsened if the person who is bitten is allergic to the offending species of spider.
A few species of spiders can cause even more intense, even potentially fatal reactions. Most commonly in the United States, the two species to be wary of are Black Widows and Brown Recluses. Black Widows spin their webs in places where flies are plentiful. If their webs are disturbed, Black Widows will bite humans. The good news is, less than a half dozen people a year die from Black Widow bites. Far more common will be symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or elevated blood pressure. Brown Recluses’ fangs are not strong enough to pierce human skin without some form of counterpressure. Bites most commonly occur when the spider is pressed between human skin and another object, such as if the spider is trapped against a wall and a human hand. Fortunately, fatal Recluse bites are almost unheard of, however, the lesions caused by their bites will require medical attention.
In case of a spider infestation, consult an expert immediately. Chemicals used to treat other infestations don’t work on spiders unless used in levels that can be dangerous to human health without proper training. And if a species of spider is dangerous, you want someone who has been properly trained in the handling of spiders handling them.
Spiders can be a major benefit to pest management in your home and garden. Spiders can also be very scary little creatures. Understanding what kinds of spiders are in your area and how to properly handle them can be a huge benefit to deciding what to do with spiders in your home.