It is enough to make many shudder in horror; house spiders found perched high in corners, hiding in the bathtub or crawling across surfaces in their home! In a world where arachnophobia is a common condition, encountering spiders in any environment can be creepy, but in your own home, the feeling is intensified many fold.
In truth, spiders are beneficial creatures. Given the reputation through movies, books and personal encounters of being vengeful, on the attack and dangerous, most people unthinkingly crush the spider under their heel without hesitation. Contrary to the opinion of many, spiders do not seek out human contact, and do not revel in the thought of biting humans. Most prefer to go about their business eating insects in their own world, and only bite humans out of a defensive mechanism.
All spiders deliver a venomous bite; a necessary component to their feeding habits. Upon capturing prey, a bite injects the venom that liquefies the insect of prey to allow the spider to consume it. Although this statement is true, most spiders have such a minute amount of venom as to not cause any concern when humans are affected. Only a very few spiders deliver a bite with enough venom to cause medical concern when a human is bitten.
The term “house spiders” applies to only three types of spiders in the United States:
The Hobo Spider
The Common House Spider
The Giant House Spider
The three are actually very similar in appearance. Two of these, the Hobo and the Giant, have a range that is limited to the Pacific Northwest, with rare occurrences of the spider being documented as far east as Utah and Montana. Obviously, there are other spider species that come into the homes of people; however, the common house spider is the most prevalent.
Spiders live everywhere on Earth with the exception of Polar Regions, peaks of high mountains and in large bodies of water. Their main purpose throughout their life span is to feed upon prey. All arachnids are predators, eating more insects as a family than birds eat. Their diet consists of specific insect types, other spiders and some of the larger spiders commonly eat small invertebrates such as lizards and frogs. There is no arachnid that deliberately seeks out the company of humans.
So why, then, do spiders venture indoors; into the homes of humans? The answer is likely to find prey. Spiders will travel to where prey can be found, and in some instances, that includes our homes. Understanding the creatures will help to alleviate the fears and creepy feelings normally experienced by arachnids.
Common house spiders can be found virtually anywhere in North America and South America. Evidence of their presence in a home can often be found in the form of their web, which will often be placed in an offbeat spot where they can live undisturbed. Males and females often live within the same web, mating often to produce offspring.
The beneficial effects of having spiders in your home will be to lower or eliminate the insect population in your home. One reason that older homes frequently have spider infestations is that insects have found the old wood, linoleum and damp, concrete basements to be quite inviting and habitable. Bathrooms, kitchens, basements and garages are areas in the home that commonly see an influx of spiders. These are also the areas where earwigs, beetles and cockroaches are living. Spiders will control the population of these types of insects as well as that of flies and mosquitoes.
Regardless of their beneficial aspects, most people just cannot fathom living life side by side with arachnids. Rather than go through the house stomping upon the spiders and sweeping away their webs, a few preventative measures can be undertaken to avoid their presence in the home.