What To Do If You See A Spider?

What Should You Do If You Find a Spider in Your House?

For starters, don’t panic—and remember that most of the 40,000 known spider species are not venomous.

PUBLISHED April 3, 2015

When a reader from Belgium found a spider in her bananas, she bravely trapped it—and says she took it to the police for identification (though sadly not in four pairs of tiny handcuffs).

In retrospect, she asked us: «What should I do if I have a [venomous] spider in the house?» (See «7 Bug and Spider Myths Squashed.»)

For Weird Animal Question of the Week, we asked spider experts Christopher Buddle of Canada’s McGill University and Jo-Anne Sewlal of the University of the West Indies how to react when someone screams «SPIDER!»

Don’t Panic

Chances are, it’s not venomous: Few of the 40,000 known spider species can harm humans, Sewlal says by email. But it’s wise to treat a spider as dangerous until you know better.

Identifying a spider as dangerous can be tricky, though some can be clearly deciphered. For instance, the venomous female black widow, found in temperate regions the world over, is black with a red hourglass shape on her underside.

The brown recluse spider, found in parts of the central and southern United States, is brown with a telltale dark brown «violin» on its back, according to the University of California at Riverside’s Richard Vetter. (Check out his brown recluse identification guide.)

Sewlal says it’s best to look up venomous spiders found in your area or areas you’re visiting and, in case of a bite, «look for specific information on how to proceed with respect to treatment.»

If you find a suspicious spider, it’s not necessary to call the authorities, as our reader did. But if you found a spider in your fruit, you can alert the grocery store, Buddle advised by email.

«Spiders are our friends,» Buddle says—they are important predators of insects in crops around the world.

«Just think of the hundreds of times you bought spiderless bananas!»

If You’re Bitten, Trap the Spider

In the rare case you do get bitten, it’s a good idea to trap the spider so you can identify the species in case treatment is needed, Sewlal says.

Isolate your leggy little tourist—along with fruit, if that’s where you found it—in a plastic bag or container, Buddle says. Put that package in the fridge to slow the cold-blooded arachnid down. This makes it easier to brush it into a jar or other container, wearing rubber gloves if you like. (Also see «What Happens If You Swallow a Spider?»)

«Do this quickly and with confidence.» (Easy for him to say.)

If you’re too uncomfortable, Buddle says, you can put the whole shebang in the freezer, which will kill the spider, leaving an intact specimen for identification.

If you’re bitten, an ice pack on the area will usually suffice for treatment, Sewlal says, but she suggests seeking medical attention if you experience symptoms such as «increasing pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dilated pupils, uncontrollable muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.»

Document Your Visitor

If you are curious about the spider’s species, you can photograph it or bring the specimen to a natural history museum or a college. (See a video of the world’s biggest spider.)

Buddle recommends the University of California at Riverside and the American Arachnological Society as great online identification resources.

If It’s in Your Food, Don’t Release It

In case the spider is a non-native species that got into your house via your food, don’t release it outside. The animal could harm the native environment. If you found the spider elsewhere in your house, you can put it outside.

If the spider did arrive in your food, «although it pains me to say this [as an arachnologist], the best course of action is to probably to kill the eight-legged cargo,» Buddle says—and Sewlal concurs.

See also:  How Spider Web Is Made?

Last, the experts say to relax and not worry too much about spiders. Banana daiquiris, anyone?

Got a question about the weird and wild animal world? Tweet me or leave me a note or photo in the comments below. You can also follow me on Facebook.

www.nationalgeographic.com

Here’s Why You Should Never Kill A Spider

Even though spiders are creepy crawlers that you probably despise, killing them could actually do your house more harm than good. Here’s why.

Christine Bird/Shutterstock

Besides having long legs and a creepy demeanor, most people are scared of spiders for one specific reason: Their bite. If you’re not sure the type of spider, there’s always a chance that the spider could be venomous. However, it has been proven that only about 10 percent of spider bites lead to necrotic skin lesions. These types of bites actually don’t come from the innocent brown spiders that make a home within your home. In fact, it’s actually quite difficult for a spider like that to bite you.

So if that’s the case, why in the world are we so drawn to killing spiders? If anything, spiders can actually help our homes instead of harming them. Since spiders are naturally predators, they capture pests within your home.

If you’re not one to welcome spiders into your house, learn how to keep them out without killing them in this video:

Now these household pests aren’t just flies, which can be a common misconception. Spiders even prey after disease-carrying insects. They go for those nasty indoor pests such as cockroaches, mosquitos, earwigs, and even clothing moths. The more you keep daddy long-legs around, the less mosquitos you’ll have floating around your home.

Typical household spider species will include cellar spiders (pholcidae, also known as “daddy long-legs”), cobweb spiders (parasteatoda tepidariorioum) and brown reclues (loxosceles reclusa). These spiders will create webs where their food source is coming from. So if you see a spider on its web, it’s even more of an inclination to leave that spider alone. They set up camp based on where the bugs are, so they will be getting rid of those bugs for you!

Don’t kill the spider

Obviously, it isn’t pleasant letting spiders roam around your home. If you cannot stand having a spider in the home, don’t squish it to bits. Instead, capture it with a jar and release it outside. It will find somewhere else to go and will continue preying on the bugs you also despise.

Spiders aren’t the only household creatures you want to keep around. Ever see those crazy looking house centipedes? They also have a huge impact to your home! Here’s why you should never kill a house centipede.

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Spider Bites: What You Should Know

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

  • Symptoms of Spider Bites
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prevention

Unless you see a spider bite you, don’t assume that mysterious bump on your skin came from an eight-legged creature. Spider bites are fairly rare.

These eight-legged creatures do bite people on occasion. But most of the time, these bites don’t cause a problem. That’s because most of the spiders in the U.S. have fangs that are too short to break your skin, and their venom isn’t strong enough to endanger a creature as large as a human.

Only two spiders that are native to the U.S. can do real harm when they bite a person: Black widows and brown recluses. Black widows tend to live in woodpiles, along fences or in outhouses in the South and West. Brown recluses tend to live in garages, attics or piles of rocks or firewood in the Midwest or South.

Both of these spiders tend to keep to themselves. They don’t bite unless they’re cornered. People sometimes invade their spaces without knowing it. That’s when they get bitten.

See also:  How To Find A Spider In Your House?

Symptoms of Spider Bites

Most look like normal bug bites, with red raised bumps that might itch. Bites from black widows or brown recluses may or may not look different. (In fact, bites from brown recluses may look and feel like nothing at all at first.) But if you’re bitten by either of these spiders, you’ll have symptoms that let you know right away that something’s wrong. These might include:

  • Sharp pain or swelling at the site of the bite
  • Pain that spreads to the back, belly or chest
  • Sweating
  • Severe stomachcramps or painВ (most common with black widow bites)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling achy all over
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • A deep ulcer that forms at the site of the bite, with the skin at the center turning purpleВ (can occur from brown recluse bites)

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you were bitten. He’ll want to know if you saw a spider bite you, and if you did, what the spider looked like. That’s really the only way he can know for sure that it was a spider that bit you.

If you have more than one bite on different parts of your body, or if several people in your house were also bitten, a spider is probably not to blame. In this case, your doctor will examine you to rule out other causes, like infection or vasculitis (a condition that causes blood vessels to swell).

Continued

Treatment

Many people who are bitten by spiders don’t need to visit the doctor, even if they’ve been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse. If you don’t have more severe symptoms like the ones listed above, you may be able to care for your spider bite at home. Try these tips so ease your pain or discomfort:

  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Dab it with antibiotic cream.
  • Elevate (raise) the area that was bitten to reduce swelling.
  • Put an ice pack on the bite.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medicine, if needed.
  • Watch for more severe symptoms.

See a doctor right away if you were bitten by a black widow and y have extreme pain or other serious symptoms. He may need to give you an antivenom shot.

If the site of bite gets infected, you may need antibiotics. You might also need to get a tetanus booster. That’s because tetanus spores sometimes collect inside spider bites.

Prevention

You can try to avoid spider bites by doing your best to not cross paths with spiders.

For example, if you spend time working outside in places where spiders may live:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, hats and gloves.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Shake out garden gloves and other clothing before putting them on.
  • Store gardening clothes in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  • Move piles of firewood and stones away from your home, and use caution around them.

To prevent spider bites while indoors, try to avoid storing items in cool, dark spaces, like under the bed. And make sure that all windows and doors have screens. It’ll help to keep the bugs out.

Sources

Mayo Clinic: “Spider bites — Overview,” Spider bites — Symptoms and Causes,” “Spider bites — Treatment,” “Spider bites — Diagnosis,” “Spider bites — Prevention.”

CDC: “Types of Venomous Spiders,” “Venomous Spider Recommendations.”

Nemours Foundation: “Bug Bites and Stings.”

U.S. Department of Labor: “Brown Recluse Spider.”

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Don’t kill the next spider you see in your home

Extension Associate in Entomology, North Carolina State University

I know it may be hard to convince you, but let me try: Don’t kill the next spider you see in your home.

Why? Because spiders are an important part of nature and our indoor ecosystem—as well as being fellow organisms in their own right.

People like to think of their dwellings as safely insulated from the outside world, but many types of spiders can be found inside. Some are accidentally trapped, while others are short-term visitors. Some species even enjoy the great indoors, where they happily live out their lives and make more spiders. These arachnids are usually secretive, and almost all you meet are neither aggressive nor dangerous. And they may be providing services like eating pests—some even eat other spiders.

My colleagues and I conducted a visual survey of 50 North Carolina homes to work out just which arthropods live under our roofs. Every single house we visited was home to spiders. The most common species we encountered were cobweb spiders and cellar spiders.

Both build webs where they lie in wait for prey to get caught. Cellar spiders sometimes leave their webs to hunt other spiders on their turf, mimicking prey to catch their cousins for dinner.

Although they are generalist predators, apt to eat anything they can catch, spiders regularly capture nuisance pests and even disease-carrying insects—for example, mosquitoes. There’s even a species of jumping spider that prefers to eat blood-filled mosquitoes in African homes. So killing a spider doesn’t just cost the arachnid its life, it may take an important predator out of your home.

It’s natural to fear spiders. They have lots of legs and almost all are venomous—though the majority of species have venom too weak to cause issues in humans, if their fangs can pierce our skin at all. Even entomologists themselves can fall prey to arachnophobia. I know a few spider researchers who overcame their fear by observing and working with these fascinating creatures. If they can do it, so can you!

Spiders are not out to get you and actually prefer to avoid humans; we are much more dangerous to them than vice versa. Bites from spiders are extremely rare. Although there are a few medically important species like widow spiders and recluses, even their bites are uncommon and rarely cause serious issues.

If you truly can’t stand that spider in your house, apartment, garage, or wherever, instead of smashing it, try to capture it and release it outside. It’ll find somewhere else to go, and both parties will be happier with the outcome.

But if you can stomach it, it’s okay to have spiders in your home. In fact, it’s normal. And frankly, even if you don’t see them, they’ll still be there. So consider a live-and-let-live approach to the next spider you encounter.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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