Spiders, Huh! What Are They Good For?
While spiders in Georgia may come off as more feared than functional, most are actually harmless to humans and quite helpful. (In fact, of the 55 known species of spiders found in Georgia, only two – the black widow and the brown recluse – are dangerous to humans.)
Fall is the spiders’ mating season, so they will be more prevalent in and around our homes. This is the time of year when you are likely to see silken egg sacs or webs in your shrubs. Spiders may produce several egg sacs, each containing up to several hundred eggs.
Although spiders are abundant and widespread, they are, best of all, a natural controller of insect pests. Spiders are beneficial predators “because they eat many insects that may carry disease, destroy crops, damage ornamental plants or infest homes,” said Aimée Thomas, a spider biologist and director of the environment program at Loyola University in New Orleans. Spiders are often the most important biological control of pests in and around homes, yards, gardens and crops. Without them, the world would be overrun by insects!
Here’s how spiders can be advantageous around the house:
- They eat other pests. As mentioned, spiders feed on annoying common pests, such as roaches, earwigs, mosquitoes, flies and clothes moths. If left alone, they can provide excellent pest control – without pesticides.
- They eliminate other spiders. When spiders encounter each other, it typically turns into a gladiator-type confrontation, with the winner devouring the loser. For example, the long-legged cellar spider is known to do this, as well as to kill the infamous and unwanted black widow.
- They help stop disease spread. By feasting on many household pests that can transmit diseases to humans – mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches, to name a few – they keep the unwanted critters at bay.
If, after reading about how house spiders can be beneficial, you still don’t want them around (understandable), it is possible to keep them in check without losing your cool. Instead of resorting to pesticides, smashing, or other potentially lethal methods (like a vacuum cleaner), try to stay ahead of population booms by limiting suitable habitats. Check windows, eaves, and other popular spider hangouts, and remove any cobwebs you find. This probably won’t eliminate your house spiders, but it might drive them to lower-profile haunts like a shed, garage or crawlspace.
Sealing potential entry points may not affect house spiders, since they don’t sneak in from outside, but it could limit invasions by other spiders. And if it also prevents insects from getting inside, it may indirectly reduce the number of house spiders by limiting their food supply.
Suspect you have a spider problem? If one is too many for you, call in a pest control expert to identify, evaluate and treat them.
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