Spiders are a common household nuisance. Although they help control the insect population, many of us would rather not share our living spaces with these eight-legged creatures. To prevent spider infestations and keep them at bay, it’s essential to implement effective pest control methods.
A key factor in spider prevention is maintaining a clean and clutter-free home. Regularly vacuuming and dusting can eliminate spider webs, egg sacs, and the critters themselves. By removing any potential hiding spots, you’ll discourage spiders from making themselves at home in your space.
Another useful strategy is sealing cracks, gaps, and other potential entry points around your residence. By limiting access, you can greatly reduce the number of spiders entering your home, helping you enjoy a spider-free environment.
Identifying Common Spider Types
Harmless spiders can be found in many places, from gardens to our homes. One such harmless spider is the yellow sac spider, which is small, about a quarter- to a half-inch long, and can be yellow, white, or even greenish (source).
- Features of harmless spiders:
- 8 legs
- 2 body parts—a head region (cephalothorax) and an abdomen
- No wings and antennae
Venomous Spiders – Brown Recluse and Black Widow
Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse spider can be identified by its dark brown violin shape on the cephalothorax and a unique eye pattern of 6 eyes in pairs with a space separating each pair (source).
- Features of brown recluse spider:
- Dark violin shape on cephalothorax
- 6 equal-sized eyes
Black Widow Spider
The black widow spider is easy to recognize due to its shiny black body and distinct red hourglass shape on the underside of its abdomen.
- Features of black widow spider:
- Shiny black body
- Red hourglass shape on the underside of abdomen
|Feature||Brown Recluse||Black Widow|
|Body markings||Dark violin shape on cephalothorax||Red hourglass shape on underside of abdomen|
|Eye pattern||6 equal-sized eyes in pairs with a space separating each pair||N/A|
|Risk to humans||Bites can cause severe damage, but fatalities are rare||Bites can be dangerous, use caution|
In summary, understanding the characteristics of common spiders can help you identify between harmless and venomous ones. Identifying venomous spiders like the brown recluse and the black widow is important for ensuring the safety of your home and family. If you encounter any of these venomous spiders, take appropriate precautions and consider consulting a pest control professional.
Prevention and Spider Control Methods
Cleaning and Decluttering
- Regular cleaning helps prevent spider infestations.
- Dispose of clutter to deny spiders hiding spots.
- For example, remove piled wood or bricks in yards.
Sealing Cracks and Crevices
Keep spiders out of your house and reduce spider infestations by:
- Sealing cracks in walls and foundations.
- Blocking off entry points for spiders in basements, attics, and garages.
Reducing Food Sources
By controlling other insects, you reduce the spider’s food sources:
- Discourage flies and mosquitoes around your house.
- Use screens on windows and doors to deny access.
Proper Lighting and Storage
- Opt for yellow outdoor lights to minimize attracting insects.
- Use plastic totes instead of cardboard boxes; it’s harder for spiders to infest.
Below is a comparison table of control methods:
|Cleaning & Declutter||Removes hiding spots, easy to maintain regularly||Requires consistent cleaning|
|Sealing Cracks||Denies entry, long-lasting results||Time-consuming and may require professional help|
|Reducing Food Sources||Decreases spider population, manageable insect levels||Can be a constant effort|
|Proper Lighting||Attracts fewer insects, reusable storage solutions||Initial cost of changing lights/storage|
Natural Spider Repellents
Essential Oils – Peppermint, Lavender, Citrus, and Eucalyptus
Natural spider repellents can be made using essential oils like peppermint, lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus. Such oils are effective in repelling spiders due to their scent.
- Peppermint oil: Spiders dislike the strong scent of peppermint, making it effective in keeping them away.
- Lavender: This oil not only repels spiders but also other insects, adding a pleasant fragrance to your home.
- Citrus: Citrus oils like lemon, orange, or grapefruit deter spiders due to their strong aroma.
- Eucalyptus: Its refreshing scent helps deter spiders and various other insects.
Using Vinegar and Diatomaceous Earth
Vinegar and diatomaceous earth can also be used as natural spider repellents.
- Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray in spider-prone areas. Vinegar’s strong smell will drive spiders away.
- Diatomaceous earth, a naturally occurring sedimentary rock, damages spider exoskeletons, causing them to dry out and die. Sprinkle it around your home’s entry points.
Chestnuts and Cedar
Chestnuts and cedar are less known but still effective methods for repelling spiders.
- Place chestnuts strategically around your home, as spiders dislike the chemicals found in them.
- Use cedar blocks or shavings in closets, under beds, and near other potential hiding spots for spiders. The scent repels spiders and other bugs.
|Essential Oils||Pleasant scents, easy to apply.||Requires frequent reapplication.|
|Vinegar||Inexpensive, easy to find.||Strong smell may be off-putting to some.|
|Diatomaceous Earth||Effective on various insects.||Can be messy.|
|Chestnuts and Cedar||Chemical-free, low maintenance.||Limited availability, dependent on season.|
Trapping and Removing Spiders
Glue Traps and Spider Catchers
Glue traps can be an effective way to get rid of spiders by trapping them on a sticky surface. Some popular options include:
- Disposable glue traps: Easy to discard after use, but less eco-friendly.
- Reusable glue traps: Can be cleaned and reused, making them more environmentally friendly.
Pros of glue traps:
- Simple to use
Cons of glue traps:
- Can be unsightly
- May incidentally trap other insects or small animals
Spider catchers are another option, typically designed with long handles and gentle bristles to safely capture spiders without harming them. Examples include:
- Spider Grabber: Features a trigger-activated arm for easy capture.
- Bug Buster: Uses a gentle vacuum to safely contain spiders.
Pros of spider catchers:
- Humane method
- Easy to use
Cons of spider catchers:
- Requires hands-on approach
- Might not work for all spider sizes
Vacuuming and Clearing Spider Webs
Vacuuming is an effective method to remove spiders, their webs, and egg sacs, which is important because each sac can contain hundreds of young spiders. It is also essential to routinely clean your home to discourage spider return. Some vacuum features to look out for include:
- Crevice tool: Helps reach tight spaces and corners.
- HEPA filter: Keeps dust and allergens contained during vacuuming.
When clearing spider webs, consider using a broom or a long-handled duster. This allows you to reach high or hard-to-reach areas where spiders may have built their webs. Note that regular cleaning helps to prevent future infestations.
When to Seek Professional Help
In cases of severe spider infestations, it is best to consult with a professional exterminator. They are skilled in identifying the type of spiders present and implementing proper treatment methods. Hiring an exterminator ensures:
- Effective pest control
- Reduced risk of future infestations
Professional exterminators also set up barriers to keep spiders from re-entering your home.
Medical Attention for Bites
Although most spiders are harmless, some bites can cause unpleasant symptoms. It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following after a spider bite:
- Rash: An itchy, red rash around the bite area
- Nausea: Feeling sick to your stomach
- Fever: Sudden increase in body temperature
- Vomiting: Forceful expulsion of stomach contents
Additionally, be aware of potential signs of a more severe reaction, such as a staph infection. Symptoms include:
- Swelling around the bite
- Intense pain
- Pus drainage
Remember to consult a healthcare professional if any of these symptoms occur.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Fungus-Ridden Spiders in Cellar
Subject: Mysterious Cellar Spiders Covered in White
Location: Castine, Maine
September 4, 2012 3:55 pm
I have read a few of the comments concerning the mysterious spiders apparently covered with a white frosty-looking substance. I have seen these in Maine, and am cleaning a few pictures of them off of my desktop. The ones I saw were definitely dead, as I could touch them with a stick with no reaction.
Thank you for your first-hand observations and photographs of this Fungus-Ridden Spider phenomenon. One of our most frequently commented upon postings has sparked a debate on whether these spiders are dead or alive. We maintain it is a fungus infection and it is possible that some of the spiders might not have completely expired, but they are not long for this world. We believe the fungus might attack the spiders while alive, but death shortly follows.
Letter 2 – Unknown Unusual Spider or Fungus Infection (Torrubiella pulvinata)
Stumped two Universities so far with this amazing white spider…
February 20, 2007
So far two Universities have no idea what this amazing white spider is. It was found with many others in an old house my friend *was* considering buying in Easton, CT. ABOUT PHOTO: Subject’s photo was taken in Easton, CT- USA. Estimated size 2-4 inches. This photo has not been altered in any way except reduction of resolution. Oh, the spider was very much alive. Many of his brethren too. In fact, my friend could not sleep for many nights after observing all the crawling.
The reason we asked if the spider was alive is that this looks like it could be a fungus infection on one of the spiders in the Pholcus genus. Your further clarification tends to rule that out. We do not recognize your spider, nor have we ever seen a spider that resembles this. Sadly, your image does not have enough critical focus to reveal any details. We will try to search for information as well as check with some of our contributors. One of our readers wrote back to us: ” Oh gee, this is really ridiculous-looking. Sorry but no way is this thing alive, despite what Cary’s friend said. There is no real focus, so you can’t even be sure what you are looking at, but to me it looks either as you say, like a dead 2 inch daddy-long legs completely ‘bloomed out’ with a fungal growth, or perhaps more likely it is a molted exoskeleton hanging on an external wall which got coated with freezing condensation (sort of like frozen dew) in winter. I can well believe there were living daddy-long legs running around in the basement in this place, but they would have been normal color and normal appearance, not like this. “
Letter 3 – Fungus Infested Cellar Spider
Subject: Is this spider poisonous
Geographic location of the bug: Milton ny
Time: 08:25 PM EDT
Found in the basement. Wondering if it is dangerous to people
How you want your letter signed: Mary e
When it was alive, this Cellar Spider was not a threat to humans. Like most Spiders, Cellar Spiders are venomous, but the bite is not considered a threat to humans. This Cellar Spider is dead and being consumed by Fungus. Cellar Spiders with Fungus Infestations are relatively common in our archives.
Quite an unusual image
When I put the photo in google images
Google identified it as some kind of light.
( does look like lightning)
Wondering if the mold that killed the spider is dangerous to humans..
Letter 4 – Fungus Riddled Spiders
Subject: Unknown Unusual Spider
Location: Stoughton, WI
September 14, 2014 7:51 pm
We’ve got them too!
We have an 103 year old four square and found them in the basement cellar under the porch. We never go there, but we went down there when we found a chipmunk coming in and out from our porch foundation. We went down to flush the chipmunk out and fill in the hole when we discovered these fascinating creatures … albeit creepy!
We live just south of Madison, WI
We had never seen them before.
We have the same questions as everyone else.
Why is this fungus suddenly appearing?
And, is it harmful to humans?
These are probably the best images we have received of Cellar Spiders infested with a deadly fungus.
Additional feedback from commenter KennyMellon:
I just feel its more then coincidence that I’ve been in nearly 2000 basements in this little town, and when I’ve seen this Cave Crickets have always been present. And in complete reverse if no crickets, than normal spiders. I came across a basement the other day that had probably 50 or better all white coated spiders. Kinda eerie.
Perhaps there is a relationship between the humidity preferred by Cave Crickets and the humidity that encourages the growth of the fungus.
Letter 5 – Spider Infected by Fungus
Subject: More Spider Fungus?
Location: Milwaukee, WI
September 18, 2016 1:45 pm
Took this photo in the crypt area in the basement of the Cavalry Cemetery Chapel in Milwaukee, WI. A living spider is in the picture too as well as something else that is much more prominent. It reminded me of this: https://www.wired.com/2012/12/spider-building-spider/, but then I saw your posts and concluded that it was a living spider alongside a dead one overtaken by fungus (definitely dead because I touched it and, thank goodness, it didn’t move!). I wonder if the living one will soon suffer the same fate. Anyway, I thought you’d like another photo of this phenomena. Thanks for your great website!
Signature: Allison Jornlin
Letter 6 – Fungus Riddled Tarantula
Subject: Fungus tarantula
Location: santa lucia, ecuador
December 23, 2012 6:49 pm
One of the most interesting finds in the cloud forest of Ecuador was a tarantula covered in an orange fungus. He looks better decorated than some of my neighbors lawns!
Our website has numerous photos of Spiders covered in Fungus and Fungus also attacks flies and other insects, including this Lady Bug. See BugGuide for some Fungus photos. Your photo brings up countless questions and is fertile ground for allowing our vivid imaginations to run amok. We wonder if this Tarantula was attacked by a fungus infection while it was still alive or if it died and was then consumed by the fungus. We wonder if the former scenario was true, if the initial infection was something that might have affected the behavior of the Tarantula. We hope you didn’t transport jungle fungus spores back to your home. Some of this paranoia might have been fueled by an early childhood viewing of “Matango–Attack of the Mushroom People” though with all the biotourism currently en vogue, people are tramping organisms all over the planet at rates much faster than an natural range expansion would permit. Thanks for sending us your awesome documentation.
Letter 7 – Fungus Riddled Spider
Sea urchin spider??
Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 10:08 AM
Hi Daniel. What the heck? I found this little guy on one of my house plants. I did not see this spider on your site and I tried looking on What’s that Bug and couldn’t find it. I’m sure it is on that site but I just haven’t gotten the hang of WTB. I get as far as spiders, and look at each group, but I don’t know how to expand it farther.
I just brought the plant in from outdoors not too long ago. I’m in Florence, MA.
This looks like one of the Ant Mimic Jumping Spiders, and it is riddled with fungus. We cannot imagine that the spider was alive when you found it, but if it was, it was doomed to an imminent and not too distant death.
How right you are! It IS dead! And here we just thought it was being so cooperative. I did not know that spiders could get fungus and die. Of course, I know nothing else about spiders either, so no surprise. Thank you so much for a great website.
Letter 8 – Giant Crab Spider riddled with Fungus, we believe
Found possible rare “mold” looking spider in Papua New Guinea
Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 7:14 PM
I recently returned from six weeks of work in the Papua New Guinea jungle, mostly in the Southern Highlands. While we came across many strange bugs and spiders, none were more strange than this one. I have so far been been unable to find any photos resembling anything like this species and am wondering if we may have stumbled upon something very rare or unnamed (I’m sure you get this question often). The spider was about 5 cm across and covered with fine hair, which makes it look out of focus in the photo. Evolution clearly intended this spider to look like a patch of mold. As you’ll see, the abdomen is distinctly concave and looks like a thin plate of mold. It was resting on a live tree covered in red paper-like bark. Even the locals seemed interested, leading me to believe this wasn’t an everyday sighting. As a g eologist, I know it’s imperative to include a scale, but unfortunately I forgot as I was preoccupied with work. I’m very curious to hear what you’ve got to say.
Near the Tari Basin, Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
We believe, based on its shape, that your spider is one of the Giant Crab Spiders in the family Sparassidae, but we don’t believe it is a living specimen. It is our opinion that this spider is riddled with fungus, leading to its unusual appearance. Many spiders and insects are killed by fungus infections.
Update: Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 8:32 PM
Thanks for the quick response. The possibility of this being a dead animal had not crossed my, nor the others I was with. After looking at the image again, I noticed the spider is only attached to the tree with four legs, resting in a vertical position on a live tree. Could he be dead and still be attached with no apparent web etc? I’ve attached the full-sized image and filtered out some of the noise. Thanks for your help.
We are sticking to our original ID. The fungus may have grown onto the leaf, attaching the spider.
Letter 9 – Fungus Riddled Spiders
December 6, 2013 11:56 am
Hi, I am so glad to be introduced to this website! We’ve been finding the cellar spiders with “pom-pom” fungus (in our cellar) for several years. It’s awful to think they might still be alive when the fungus first moves in. Ours have each been found dead. I wondered if the fungus is feeding on proteins in the joints (and body) of the spider. Any ideas?
Is this a “new” fungus? We expect to learn that it might be. Our investigations of biowarfare (especially regarding so-called Lyme) have led us to components of that disease which are “new” (and patented….) but I do digress :-).
We are in eastern New York State (near the Vermont border.
We are illustrating your comment with a photo from our archives since you did not provide one. We don’t have much additional information on this phenomenon. According to BugGuide: “Cellar spiders with Torrubiella pulvinata.“ The online book Tracks & Sign of Insects & Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney states: “Many insects and spiders meet their end as a result of infection by pathogenic fungi, which are often highly host-specific. Infection generally begins with a fungal spore simply landing on the host. The spore germinates, and the fungus grows internally until it kills the host, at which point spore-bearing structures usually emerge from the corpse. There are many unrelated groups of pathogenic fungi, and they come in a variety of forms, but the few that are described here account for the majority of the conspicuous and commonly seen types. … A related but very different-looking fungus, Torrubiella pulvinata, kills cellar spiders (Pholcidae). It first appears as white, fluffy spheres surrounding the body and each of the leg joints, eventually forming a complete covering of white fuzz.” So the spider is alive when it is first attacked and it is eventually killed by the fungus.
Thank you, Daniel.
I don’t have the means to take photo and get it to you. Or rather, I have the means but don’t quite know how to do it. Sorry. I am a Luddite at heart. That said, I also have a podcast I call Landslide, on www.ourstreamingplanet.com and www.goingbeyondradio.com I use the name Bonfire.
In my Lyme disease investigation it is the mycoplasma fermentans that makes me wonder about the Torrubiella pulvinata’s origins, especially given that it is a fungus. Pathogenic mycoplasma, one of the Lyme components I am researching, is a patented disease, derived from AIDS and ARC patients and sometimes found in the blood of Lyme patients.
Thanks for responding.
Letter 10 – Fungus we suspect
Strange Chute out of garden
Location: Pennsylvania – front flower bed
July 9, 2011 11:59 am
I have these pinkish/red chutes coming up out of my garden with a white bulb on the end in the ground and a black tip (looks like electrical tape) on the top.
I have never seen anything like this and cannot find any references on the net that sound like it.
I do know I found a lot of grub like larvae earlier this spring when I was planting flowers.
We believe this is a fungus, just a fancy name for a mushroom. Perhaps it is related to new much you put down. We will try to contact Lisa at the Mycologista blog to see if she recognizes this organism.
Before I even see this, from the graphic description I bet it’s a Stinkhorn…but, let’s see.
Letter 11 – Fungus Infested Cellar Spider
Subject: Close ups of the Cellar Spider
Location: Leamington Ontario. Old farm house
September 22, 2014 7:24 am
I’ve looked to see what my little alien being was called and have seen old posts of fuzzy pictures. So i figured for the sake of science and imagination! This guy was hanging from a web. I’m almost positive it’s dead.
Thanks for adding to the images we have of Cellar Spider infested with Fungus.
Letter 12 – Spider with Fungus Infection
Subject: Spider or Sea Creature?
Geographic location of the bug: Andover, NJ
Time: 04:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi Daniel,
I was poking around my patch of common milkweed today and came across this most peculiar looking creature. Looking at the enlarged image, I believe this is a spider. What I am not sure of is if it has been parasitized or if this is some sort of disguise? I’ve never seen anything like it and hoping you can shed some light on what it is.
How you want your letter signed: Deborah Bifulco
You are correct that this is a Spider and you are also correct that it has been parasitized. This Spider has expired from a fungus infection like the individual in this BugGuide image and this BugGuide image.
Thank you for the response and the links. Interestingly, I found a second spider on the same milkweed that was also dead, but looked more like the photo in the first link. I wonder if the milkweed plant is carrying something that affects the spiders.
While we would not rule it out entirely, our suspicion is that milkweed and the fungus are not related.