“Burn it to the ground!” “That’s it, we’re moving!” If you believe social media, this is the only proper reaction to a spider in your West Palm Beach home. The truth is that most spiders are relatively harmless, and in many cases, they help keep the pest population under control.
While some spiders do bite, their bites will resemble that of an ant, usually just producing some itching and discomfort. There are two spiders, the black widow and the brown recluse, whose bites are harmful and possibly fatal to humans. Let’s take a look at the spiders you may encounter, while the pros at Empire Pest Defense help you determine if they are dangerous.
Common House Spiders
Before we learn about dangerous spiders that call Florida home, let’s review some of the common, less harmful spiders you may encounter:
- House spider: A house spider is a small spider you are likely to find in the dark areas of your home. They are typically a shade of brown or grey, with some white markings. They grow to be about the size of a nickel at most.
- Cellar spider (Daddy longlegs): One of the most recognizable spiders you will find, a cellar spider has a small circular abdomen with long, thin legs. They are completely harmless to humans.
- Wolf spider: The wolf spider is so named because it is covered in grey, black, or brown hair that resembles the coat of a wolf. They are a larger spider, measuring about 1½ inches when fully grown. Instead of catching their prey in webs, they hunt their prey. Typically wolf spiders favor dark, less trafficked areas that attract other bugs for prey, like garages, basements, and sheds.
Here in Florida, we do have two species of spiders that homeowners need to be on the lookout for, as their bites can be harmful, and sometimes fatal, to humans. These two species are the black widow and the brown recluse. If you suspect you have been bitten by either one, your first step should be an immediate trip to the emergency room for treatment.
The black widow spider is easily recognizable by its distinct coloration and markings: all black with a red hourglass marking on its back. Females are usually about 3/4 of an inch long with legs that are over an inch in length, and males are typically half that size. They can be found both inside and outside your home. Inside, they will be found in quiet, protected areas where they can trap prey like garages, attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Outside, look for them under stones, in woodpiles, and occasionally in low trees and shrubs.
The brown recluse is tan to dark brown in color, with a distinct darker fiddle-shaped marking on its back, and is typically ¼-1/2 inch long. These spiders can be found indoors in undisturbed areas, including in seldomly worn shoes or under clothing that does not get moved often. Basements, attics, and closets are the most common indoor areas for the brown recluse. Outside, they can be found around utility boxes, woodpiles, and rocks.
How To Keep Spiders Out
While most spiders in your home will not harm you, your family, or your pets, they are still unwelcome visitors. In many cases, spiders are drawn inside because they are attracted to other bugs already living in your home. Let’s take a look at a few steps you can take to keep spiders, whether harmless or dangerous, outside:
- Regularly clean lesser-used areas like basements, sheds, and attics.
- Spiders hide inside grocery bags and delivery boxes. Make sure to inspect all your bags and boxes before bringing them into the house.
- Seal any cracks or gaps that spiders could use as access points. This includes in your home’s foundation, as well as around doors and windows.
- Quickly clean up spills and messes that may attract other bugs like ants and flies, since spiders will follow them.
Even if you follow all these steps, you may still find yourself with a spider problem. If that's the case, call the professionals at Empire Pest Defense. We have years of experience in the West Palm Beach area and will help you develop a pest control plan to keep spiders, and the bugs they feed on, out of your home for good.