Fall brings us Spiders: Nature’s natural born killers!

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Around July or August this year, I was walking into a local grocery store with a pumpkin and jack-o-lantern display. I took a picture with the intention of posting it on Instagram with the hashtag, “Noooo it’s too soon”! It is now September and the children are back in school. As a matter of fact, they have had a day off due to the torrential downpour and subsequent flooding we have been experiencing these past three days. Chances are people around Hampton Roads have been noticing a little more spider activity than normal. By noticing, I mean walking squarely through an invisible spider web on the way to the car. I myself caught one across the face walking onto a customer’s porch. That sucker was pretty strong, too. I guess he was going for larger prey like rodents and unsuspecting humans.

One fairly prominent spider this time of year is the Argiope spider. It is also known as the Zipper Spider or Zig Zag spider because of the zig zag pattern in their webs. They are fairly menacing looking to any who come across them. This spider is interested in eating bugs, not humans. They are relatively harmless to humans, however, as in the case of any venom, the reaction could be different in children and the elderly, so extra precaution and medical attention should be paid to them as well as those with compromised immunity.

Another “fall friend” is the Wolf Spider. According to the article by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Wolf Spider does not make webs, but generally, they seek out insects for food on the ground.  They enter homes in the fall when the weather for warmth. They are basically your bouncers or “organic pest service providers”. They are not the snuggly types so they will bite if handled and their venom can cause pain and irritation.

Black widow spiders are common as well as venomous. They are not aggressive and those that have been bitten generally picked up an object that the black widow’s web was attached to and pressed the spider into their flesh. Immediate medical attention is necessary for children and the elderly especially. Bringing the spider to the medical facility for proper identification aids in identifying how best to treat the patient.

Brown recluse are mainly from the Midwest, however, they have made their way to Hampton Roads. There are a few of them and even fewer cases of brown recluse having run-ins with people, but they do deserve an honorable mention. The brown recluse, like the black widow, is not aggressive. In my research, I found articles on homes with hundreds of brown recluse living in the home, but they live in peace with the homeowner.  Their bite reactions range from no irritation to skin sloughing off and tissue death.

In general, spiders do perform a function in eating other insects. Prevention would involve cleaning closets, corners, and other parts of your home regularly. You do not want to find out they are there the hard way. Use a vacuum to clean corners from the ceiling to the floor and inside shoes. If you happen to see a rather swollen spider, be careful not to kill it by smashing it, you could find yourself watching dozens of baby spiders scattering away!

Exclusionary measures such as checking the seals around your exterior doors, filling in gaps around pipes that enter the home, as well as caulking around windows are a few of the ways to prevent spiders entering your home. A pest management professional can also assist with pest prevention with a chemical application to high areas, corners, as well as wall voids and other “hot spots”.

 

You can find more information about spiders in Virginia in these two articles:

Identifying spiders

Spiders of Medical Concern in Virginia

Happy Fall!

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