The fun season may be over for us, but for spiders, the party is now in full swing. As autumn comes in and weather turns cooler, homeowners throughout the country are starting to notice more and more of the creepy crawlies scuttling inside their homes as they look for a warm place to overwinter or mate. To make matters worse, entomologists have issued a warning
that this year, the eight-legged nightmares have grown larger than ever, with the biggest ones reaching the size of a human palm.
So should we quake with fear and run out of the spindly creatures’ way or – as scary as it may sound – try to ‘live and let live’? Contrary to what you’d expect, having spiders in your house this fall may not necessarily be a bad thing. Here’s why.
The Bright Side of Sharing the House with Spiders
Spiders are universally hated. According to psychologists, people have an innate preference for curved shapes
, bright colors
, and ‘predictable behavior’ when it comes to insects - so it’s understandable why the angular-shaped legs, dark colors, and unpredictability of spiders make us hate them more than any other insects. The idea that something potentially harmful is lurking in the dark, moves erratically, and is hard to spot is a potent source of fear. To top things up, spiders also have a very bad reputation for biting and even killing people with their lethal venom.
But it turns out, spiders’ reputation vastly exceeds the reality, and our fear is mostly unwarranted
. Of the 40,000 recorded and named species of spiders
in the world (1,500 in Canada), it is believed that only about a dozen have venom that’s actually harmful to humans, including the notorious black widow and brown recluse, but not the tarantula, as most people assume. The rest, although they all use venom to kill their prey (other arthropods (insects), birds, and reptiles), are entirely harmless to humans.
On the contrary, there are several reasons why spiders are sometimes regarded as beneficial insects:
- They are some of nature’s best pest control agents, trapping and killing many unwanted house guests (flies, mosquitoes, fleas, moths, mites, etc.), some of which are disease-carrying and dangerous to humans. According to some estimates, having one spider inside the house means having 2,000 fewer other bugs every year.
- They keep the garden healthy by feeding on a variety of pests that attack flowers and vegetables, including butterflies, wasps, moths, flies, and others.
- Spiders’ silk is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, used by people in some parts as fishing nets; synthetized spider silk is currently used in creating the next generation of parachutes and bullet-proof vests.
When It’s Time to Act
Another good thing about spiders is that they limit their own numbers
, so it’s possible that they’ll keep their population under control themselves, without your intervention. However, sooner or later, their numbers may spin out of control, and you must focus on action to deal with them before they manage to take over entire areas of your home. Here are some ways
to deter spiders from sneaking inside your house:
- Mend holes and cracks that serve as entry points and cover air vents with fine mesh
- Apply caulk around faucets, wires, cables, and closed doors and windows
- Store firewood, debris, trash, or mulch outside and away from the house’s structure
- Store seasonal clothing in sealed bags instead of cardboard boxes to prevent attracting indoor pests, including spiders
- Vacuum thoroughly in dark corners, window frames, and other hidden spaces in attics, basements, or closets where they can build webs and breed
In order to successfully control a large spider infestation, two things must be done: control food sources and eliminate the existing population through safe, nontoxic methods. Your local pest control professional
can help assess your spider problem and determine which control method is most effective to eradicate it.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.