From the Goliath Birdeater to the itsy bitsy spider, arachnids are the thing of nightmares for some and great interest for others. Exclamations of “burn it all down” if a spider is found in the house to cheering on the friendly neighborhood Spiderman, these eight-legged characters have been around for 400 million years.
Which is around twice as long as us humans. That means we’ve been horrified with, amused by, or just plain interested in spiders as long as we’ve been on earth. It’s no wonder that spiders can be found throughout the human archive, with references several thousand years old.
Whether viewed as Gods, supernatural creatures, or harbingers of doom, spiders have spun a web around the human psyche, for better or worse. In most cases, spiders help clear our flower pots and garden beds from nuisance insects and provide dewy-morning artwork for us to enjoy.
It is true that some spiders pack quite a venomous punch – do NOT go looking for brown recluse spider bites on the internet. They usually don’t bite unless they are confronted or just happen to find themselves trapped next to the skin (think of a sleeping human rolling over on one). For the most part, they just want to hang out, eat some insects, and occasionally work to save the life of a little pig.
Pacific Northwest Spiders
When digging around the garden or tending to other landscaping, it’s possible to come across all manners of spiders. Little white spiders, bright red spiders, and other various sizes and colors. Many of these colored spiders may just be in an infant stage and will change color as they grow.
Many of the adult spiders you see will be dark in color – black, brown, or tan – and are mostly harmless. However, there are a few spiders that almost everybody knows to look out for, and a few that aren’t nearly as bad as once believed. Let’s take a look at well-known and most common spiders common in our next of the woods.
Black Widows (latrodectus hesperus) – As one of the most well-known spiders in the arachnid world, the black widow spider is recognizable by the red hourglass shape on its underside (only seen on adult females). It’s also one of the more poisonous spiders found in the Pacific Northwest. Their webs are usually thin and shapeless and can be found in dry areas, such as crawlspaces of the home. In most cases, black widows will avoid confrontation. However, their bite can cause muscle spasms in the area, headaches, chills, back pain, and a host of other very uncomfortable feelings. Death, however, is quite uncommon.
Hobo Spider (tegenaria agrestis) – The hobo is often confused with the similar-looking – although much more venomous – brown recluse spider. The hobo is a funnel-web spider and can often be found under rocks or in other covered dark areas. Brown in color, they are often indistinguishable from other spiders in the Pacific Northwest. It was once believed their bites were dangerous, causing cell damage. However, it is now believed that the hobo spider bite causes very little damage at all.
Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium species) – Although not terribly common in the Portland/Vancouver area, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with the yellow sac spider. Mostly because it’s bite can be bothersome, including swelling, redness, and blisters around the bite area. These spiders are not aggressive, though, and usually only bite when trapped against the skin. It has a yellowish appearance and spin cocoon or sac webs.
Wolf Spider (Family Lycosidae) – One of the larger Pacific Northwest spiders, the wolf spider spends its time looking for prey in wooded areas, shrubs, and gardens. They do not spin webs and aren’t known as very good climbers. They do move very fast on the ground and often pounce upon their prey. Their bite will cause discomfort in humans, although medical attention is rarely needed.
Common House Spider – Chances are, you’ve seen these spiders more than once set up shop in your home. Around a quarter of an inch long, these house-dwelling spiders can be found hanging out in the corner of a ceiling. In some cases, they may not even be noticed at all. Unless they happen to lower themselves six inches from your face.
As you can see, the Pacific Northwest is pretty safe from spiders that can kill you. That doesn’t mean you want to be sharing your home with them. If you do see one or two consistently crawling around the home, there could be a spider infestation either in the house or near the exterior of your home.
Spider and other Pest Control
Just like other creepy crawlies – and about any other animal – spiders spend most of their time thinking about food. Some crawl along the ground looking for resting insects, others hide in flowers, and we’re all familiar with spider webs.
Spiders like to invade the interior of our homes as well. They love dark areas, corners of ceilings, baseboard areas, window frames and out of the way areas of your home. It’s always a good idea to use a hose attachment to vacuum up any spider hideouts and webbing.
On the outside of the home, keep shrubbery and trees cut away from the siding, decking, or the porch of your home. These are easy bridges to doors, open windows, and other entrances to the house. Periodically check the exterior of your home. Plug holes you see where the foundation meets the siding.
Many spiders aren’t great climbers, so removing easy access points to the home will help immensely. Removing any spider webs helps especially around window frames and door frames. Will these steps ensure no spider invades your home? Of course not. In fact, only five percent of common house spiders ever leave the home! But you can keep some of their pals at bay.
Time for a Professional?
If you feel you’ve been overrun by spiders, give The Bug Man a call. We take a whole-home approach to pest control, offer suggestions to keep infestations to a minimum, and use EPA-approved chemicals to treat the home. For more than 30 years, we’ve been helping clients rid their homes of pests and take steps to keep them out.
During that time, we’ve come to realize that every situation is different. No matter if it’s spiders, insects, or rodents, we will devise a personalized plan of attack. We won’t kick you out of your home for a week while we cover the whole house in harmful chemicals. What we will do is treat the areas that are affected as well as make follow up calls as needed.
Spiders in the Pacific Northwest are a helpful lot, clearing out insects that snack on flowers, vegetables, and other decorative foliage. But we certainly understand if they give you the heebie-jeebies. If you’re having problems with spiders inside the home, make sure to contact The Bug Man today.