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March Blog: Spiders
Eight-Legged Legends: Unveiling the Wonders of Spiders

Spiders. The eight-legged word itself can evoke chills or curiosity, depending on who you ask. But these fascinating creatures deserve a closer look! More than just creepy crawlies, spiders are ecological marvels that play a vital role in our world.

Amazing Adaptations

Spiders come in a staggering array of shapes, sizes, and colors. From the tiny jumping spider, barely the size of a pea, to the Goliath Birdeater with a leg span exceeding a foot, these arachnids have adapted to thrive in almost every environment on Earth. Their silk, a marvel of bioengineering, is stronger than steel relative to its weight and has countless uses, from web-spinning and prey capture to ballooning (catching air currents to travel long distances).

Masters of the Hunt

Spiders are not insects – they belong to the class Arachnida. Unlike insects with six legs and chewing mouthparts, spiders have eight legs and inject venom to liquefy their prey. Their hunting strategies are as diverse as their species. Orb weavers construct intricate webs, waiting patiently for unsuspecting insects to get entangled. Jumping spiders, with excellent vision, stalk their prey and pounce with impressive agility.

Beyond Pest Control

While some spiders might take up unwanted residence in our homes, they are far more beneficial than bothersome. Spiders are nature’s pest control champions, keeping insect populations in check. They also play a crucial role in food webs, serving as prey for birds, lizards, and other animals.

Facing Your Fear

Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is a common phobia. However, with a little understanding and education, we can learn to appreciate these remarkable creatures. Many resources are available online and in libraries to help overcome this fear.

Join the fascination!

The world of spiders is a captivating one. There are numerous citizen science projects where you can contribute to our understanding of these fascinating creatures. You can also observe spiders in your own backyard or local park. Remember, the next time you see a spider, take a moment to appreciate its unique adaptations and ecological importance. After all, spiders are not just creepy crawlies – they are eight-legged wonders!

Should I be scared if I see a spider in my kitchen or bedroom in Pikesville, Md?

In most cases, there’s no need to be scared if you see a spider in your kitchen or bedroom. Here’s why:

  • Most spiders are harmless: The vast majority of spiders found in homes are not dangerous to humans. They lack the aggressive nature or venom potency to cause serious harm.
  • They’re beneficial: Spiders are natural pest controllers, preying on flies, mosquitoes, and other insects that might be more bothersome.
  • They’re unlikely to bother you: Spiders generally prefer to stay hidden and avoid contact with humans. They’re more interested in catching prey than interacting with you.

However, there are a few things to consider:

  • Location: If you live in an area with venomous spiders, it’s wise to learn how to identify them. Most bites from venomous spiders are not fatal, but they can be painful and require medical attention.
  • Fear: If you have a strong fear of spiders (arachnophobia), seeing one can be understandably upsetting. There are resources available to help overcome this fear, but even if you choose removal, there’s no need to panic.

Here are some options for dealing with a spider in your home:

  • Catch and release: If you’re comfortable, you can carefully capture the spider in a glass and release it outdoors.
  • Vacuum: This is a quick and easy way to remove the spider, but be aware it might harm the spider.
  • Let it be: If the spider is in a corner and not bothering you, it might be best to leave it alone. It will likely help control other bug populations in your home.

If you’re unsure about the type of spider or uncomfortable removing it yourself, you can always contact a pest control professional for assistance.

Do spiders cause diseases?

There’s a common misconception that spiders transmit diseases to humans. Here’s the breakdown:

  • No direct transmission: Spiders are not known to directly transmit diseases like mosquitos or ticks. They don’t carry pathogens like bacteria or viruses that can infect humans.
  • Secondary infection possible: In very rare cases, a spider bite can become secondarily infected if bacteria from the spider’s fangs or your skin enters the wound. This is more likely to happen if you scratch the bite excessively. Proper cleaning and wound care can help prevent this.
  • Bacteria on fangs: Recent research suggests some spiders might carry bacteria on their fangs, including antibiotic-resistant strains. However, more studies are needed to understand the potential transmission risk to humans through bites.

Overall, the risk of getting a disease from a spider bite is extremely low. If you are bitten by a spider and the wound shows signs of infection (redness, swelling, pus), it’s best to consult a doctor for proper treatment.

What if a spider touches food, does it need to be thrown away?

Whether or not to throw away food a spider touched depends on a few factors:

  • Severity of contact: A quick leg brush across a wrapped piece of food is likely less risky than a spider crawling directly on exposed food.
  • Type of food: Throwing away unwrapped or soft foods (fruits, vegetables, open containers) might be more prudent than with packaged or hard foods (sealed bags, nuts in shells).
  • Your comfort level: If the thought of spider contamination bothers you, discarding the food is perfectly understandable.

Here’s a breakdown of the potential risks and how to decide:

  • Minimal risk: Spiders themselves aren’t known to carry diseases transmissible to humans.
  • Potential for bacteria: While the spider itself might not be a disease carrier, there’s a chance it could be carrying some bacteria on its legs. This is more likely if the spider was in a dirty area.
  • Spoilage concerns: More than disease, the bigger concern might be if the spider damaged the food or introduced contaminants like dirt or insect parts.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Discard high-risk items: If the food was unwrapped or has visible signs of tampering by the spider (webs, insect parts), it’s best to throw it away.
  • Inspect and clean: For packaged or hard foods, you can carefully inspect the area the spider touched. If there’s no visible damage, you can remove the affected part and clean the remaining food thoroughly before consuming.
  • Use your judgment: Ultimately, the decision comes down to your comfort level. If you’re unsure or grossed out by the possibility of spider contamination, it’s okay to discard the food.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Store food properly: Keep food in sealed containers or covered to minimize the chance of insects, including spiders, coming into contact with it.
  • Clean up spills: Crumbs and spills can attract insects, so keep your kitchen clean to discourage spider visitors.

By taking these steps, you can minimize the chances of spiders contaminating your food and make an informed decision if it does happen.

If I see a spider in my bed, in Baltimore, MD is there a chance there will be more?

Seeing one spider in your bed doesn’t necessarily mean there are more lurking around. Here’s why:

  • Solitary hunters: Most spiders are solitary creatures. They don’t live in colonies or nests like ants or bees. They typically hunt for food and create webs alone.
  • Lost traveler: The spider you saw might have simply wandered into your bed from another part of the house, looking for a warm spot or investigating an interesting scent.

However, there are a few things to consider:

  • Web presence: Check the surrounding areas, particularly under the bed, the headboard, or near the walls for webs. If you see webs, it suggests the spider might have been living nearby and your bed was just an unfortunate detour.
  • Multiple sightings: If you see multiple spiders in your bed or bedroom over a short period, it could indicate a larger population. This might be due to easy access to prey (insects) in your room or suitable hiding spots.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Remove the spider: If you’re comfortable, gently capture and release the spider outdoors. You can use a glass and a piece of paper to trap and relocate it.
  • Reduce clutter: Spiders like to hide in clutter. Remove clutter from under the bed and around your room to make it less attractive to them.
  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming your bed frame, mattress, and surrounding areas can help remove spiderwebs, insects that attract spiders, and any potential egg sacs.
  • Seal entry points: Look for cracks or gaps around windows, doors, or vents that spiders might use to enter your room. Seal these openings to deter future visitors.

If you see multiple spiders or suspect a larger infestation, consider contacting a pest control professional for assistance. They can identify the type of spider and recommend the best course of action for eliminating them from your home.

Can you swallow a spider in your sleep? If so, what happens?

The idea of swallowing a spider in your sleep is a well-known myth! Here’s why it’s highly unlikely:

  • Spiders prefer peace: We humans are giants compared to spiders. Our movements, breathing, and heartbeat create vibrations that spiders find unsettling. They’d likely avoid us altogether while we sleep.
  • Web placement is strategic: Spiders typically build webs in quiet corners or sheltered areas, not across an open space like your face.
  • Sensing danger: Spiders have excellent senses, including touch receptors on their legs. If something brushed against them while they were exploring, they’d probably hightail it out of there.
  • Gag reflex is on guard: Even if a spider did somehow end up in your mouth, your body’s natural gag reflex would likely kick in, forcing you to wake up and expel it.

So, can you swallow a spider? Technically, it’s possible, but incredibly improbable.

If the highly unlikely scenario did occur, here’s what would likely happen:

  • Small chance of harm: Most common house spiders are not venomous to humans. You might experience a minor irritation in your throat if it brushed against your airways, but that’s about it.
  • Body would expel it: Your body’s natural coughing or gagging reflex would likely expel the spider before it could cause any harm.

Overall, there’s no need to lose sleep over spider consumption! It’s a myth you can safely debunk.

How do I tell if a spider is poisonous? 

Identifying a poisonous spider solely by sight can be tricky, and attempting to get close enough for a detailed examination is not recommended. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind, but it’s important to prioritize safety:

  • Location is key: If you know the general location where you live, you can research the common venomous spiders in that area. This will give you a better idea of what to look for.
  • Recognizing common features: Some, but not all, venomous spiders share certain physical characteristics. These include:
    • Fangs: Venomous spiders tend to have larger fangs relative to their body size compared to harmless house spiders.
    • Eyes: Many venomous spiders have eight eyes, but some harmless species do as well. However, venomous spiders often have their eyes arranged in a specific way, such as having two larger eyes in the front row.
    • Coloration: While not a definitive indicator, some venomous spider species have bright colors or distinct markings that serve as a warning to predators. However, many harmless spiders also have colorful bodies.

Safety First:

  • Don’t approach for a closer look: If you suspect a spider might be venomous, it’s best to admire it from a distance and avoid disturbing it.
  • Take a picture for identification: If you can safely capture a clear picture of the spider from a distance, you can use online resources or consult a pest control professional for help identifying it.
  • Focus on prevention: The best approach is to deter spiders from entering your home in the first place. Implement preventative measures like sealing entry points, reducing clutter, and regularly vacuuming.


  • Most spiders are harmless: In North America, the vast majority of spiders are not dangerous to humans. Bites from even venomous spiders are rarely fatal, although they can be painful.
  • Seek professional help if bitten: If you are bitten by a spider and experience concerning symptoms like severe pain, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Here are some resources that can help you identify spiders:

  • Local university extension office websites often have information on common spiders in your area.
  • Pest control company websites may have identification guides for common household pests.
  • Online entomology resources can provide detailed information on spider species, but be cautious about relying solely on internet images for identification.

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable dealing with a spider, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact a pest control professional for assistance.

What are the best ways to prevent spiders?

Here are some of the best ways to prevent spiders from entering your home:

  • Seal entry points: Spiders can squeeze through very small openings. Regularly inspect the perimeter of your home for cracks around windows, doors, vents, utility lines, and underneath siding. Seal these openings with caulk or weather stripping to prevent spiders from coming inside.
  • Declutter your home: Spiders like to build webs and hide in clutter. Reduce clutter around the house, especially in basements, attics, and corners. This will give them fewer places to hide and make your home less attractive to them.
  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming your floors, walls, and furniture regularly can help remove spiders, spiderwebs, and insects that spiders prey on. Pay particular attention to corners, baseboards, and areas where webs are commonly found.
  • Store food properly: Spiders are attracted to food sources and the insects they attract. Keep food in sealed containers or cupboards and clean up any spills immediately.
  • Reduce moisture: Spiders thrive in humid environments. Fix leaky faucets and pipes, and use dehumidifiers in basements and crawl spaces to control moisture levels in your home.
  • Natural repellents: Several natural substances are said to repel spiders, although the scientific evidence is mixed. You can try placing bowls of vinegar solution, peppermint oil solution, or mixtures of several essential oils around entry points or potential hiding spots. Be aware that these repellents may need to be replaced regularly.
  • Eliminate attractants: If you have a problem with other insects like flies or roaches, dealing with those infestations can help reduce the spider population as well, since spiders prey on these insects.

By following these tips, you can create a less hospitable environment for spiders and discourage them from taking up residence in your home.  However, it’s important to remember that occasionally encountering a spider indoors is inevitable.  If you see a spider, the most common course of action is to simply remove it humanely and continue with your regular preventative measures.

Should I hire a pest control company in Baltimore, MD to treat for spiders?

Whether or not to hire a pest control company for spiders depends on the severity of your situation. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Consider hiring a professional if:

  • Heavy infestation: You’re seeing multiple spiders daily in various areas of your home.
  • Specific venomous species: You suspect or confirm the presence of dangerous spider species in your area.
  • Ineffectiveness of DIY methods: You’ve tried various preventative measures and DIY control methods without success.
  • Fear or phobia: You have a strong fear of spiders that makes dealing with them yourself difficult.

DIY methods might be sufficient if:

  • Occasional sightings: You only see a spider occasionally, and they’re typically in isolated areas.
  • Non-venomous species: You can identify the spiders and know they’re not a threat.
  • Comfort with DIY: You’re comfortable with preventative measures like sealing entry points and regular cleaning.

Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Cost: Hiring a pest control company can be expensive, so weigh the cost against the level of infestation and the peace of mind it might bring.
  • Safety: If you’re unsure about the type of spider or uncomfortable handling them, a professional can safely identify and remove them.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you’re unsure or have a significant spider problem, consulting with a reputable pest control company can give you a personalized assessment and treatment plan. They can also help identify the root cause of the infestation and recommend preventative measures to keep spiders at bay in the long run.

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