Thought Your Holiday Guests Departed? Not Spiders.

When the holidays conclude and harsh winter weather begins in earnest, spiders are re-discovering one of their favorite places to build webs - homes. While most spiders are mere annoyances, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that the brown recluse and black widow spiders can pose health risks. 

Known to inject poison with its bite, the brown recluse spider typically does not bite humans unless threatened.  These spiders can produce painful bites and cause open sores. Measuring about a half inch with a dark brown violin marking on its back, brown recluse spiders build their webs in warm, dry and dark environments, notably basements and closets.

Similarly, black widow spiders do not bite humans instinctively.  However, when they do bite, they can cause extremely painful bites, especially for children and the elderly. Recognized for its red hourglass shape under the abdomen, these spiders spin their webs close to the ground and are most often found in woodpiles and undisturbed areas. 

"Although most spiders are nuisance pests, homeowners must keep these more dangerous species from gaining access to their homes," says Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "With firewood being brought indoors to warm homes, spider prevention is necessary as these pests seek refuge from cool winter temperatures."

NPMA offers the following tips to help prevent contact with spiders:

  • Avoid keeping clothing and shoes on the floor, especially if in an area known for spiders; consider storing inside plastic containers.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around the home.
  • Vacuum/sweep away webs in and around the home.
  • Shake out all clothing that has been in the laundry basket before wearing/washing.
  • Keep garages, attics and basements clean and clutter free.
  • If a spider bites you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
  • If you have an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.