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Should I Kill Spiders?

Spiders are great for the environment and for human health!

Spiders are great for the environment and for human health!

Seeing a spider can send some people into a frenzy.

Though most of the spiders you see on a daily basis in the United States are not very dangerous to humans, the idea of all spiders being dangerous persists.

But spiders, both inside and out are extremely beneficial to the environment.

They provide natural pest control and can help insure nature stays in balance.

Learn about these amazing creatures and why you should be their advocate and not their enemy.

Should I Kill Spiders I See Outside?

The short answer is no.

Spiders belong outside and are an important part of the delicate balance of nature both as a predator and prey.

Once, my sister had a pest control company ring her doorbell and explain that they were offering exterminating services in the neighborhood because of spider problems.

My sister indicated that she had not seen any spiders in her house and was not experiencing any issues.

The pest control technician indicated that he had seen spiders on her property. When she asked "where" he pointed out into the yard and under the porch.

"But isn't that where they belong?" she asked.

The technician didn't have an answer and walked away.

Spider webs are an important part of nature and a beautiful work of art.

Spider webs are an important part of nature and a beautiful work of art.

Spiders in Nature

Spiders are a part of a natural food chain.

According to the University of Florida, they are essential for natural pest population control and eat numerous insects that cause harm to humans, including mosquitoes, which carry diseases.

Spiders are also important as food sources for birds and other small mammals.

Unless the spider is in the way of a natural path for humans, all attempts should be made to leave a found spider web alone and allow the spider to do its part for the environment.

Spiders Inside

Interestingly, there are some species of spiders that have become so well-adapted to living peacefully with humans that they can no longer survive well outside.

According to the University of Florida, many of these spend most of their lives living indoors and people are unaware.

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You know those spider webs that seem to appear with no trace of the spider? It is evidence that some form of house spider has made a home in your house.

But are spiders really a danger when they are in the house?

Most Spiders in the United States Not Dangerous To Humans

Research shows that most spiders can't even pierce human skin, let alone inflict any kind of major damage.

You are unlikely to see or even interact with a spider either in or out of your house.

The two most dangerous spiders are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse.

However, both spiders are shy, do not actively seek to engage with human targets (remember how much bigger you are than them) and can be avoided if you are careful.

A brown recluse has a violin shape on its back.

A brown recluse has a violin shape on its back.

Violin shaped head  of brown recluse circled in orange.  Notice that the top of the violin points towards the body.

Violin shaped head of brown recluse circled in orange. Notice that the top of the violin points towards the body.

Avoiding Black Widows and Brown Recluse Spiders

  • Black Widows

Black Widow spiders are most likely found outdoors in an area that offers some protection-- under discarded materials, sandbox lids, benches or even rock formations.

They build very strong webs and wait, out of sight, for their prey.

(According to the University of Florida, Black Widows' webs are so strong they were used to form the crosshairs on gunsights during World War II.)

Not putting your hand into this area and wearing thick work gloves if you need to move old wood or building materials will keep you safe from bites.

  • Brown Recluse

The Brown Recluse most likely will hide in the same places a Black Widow hides.

However, the Recluse can also hide in shoes, clothing or bedding.

The best bet is to examine these items, especially if they have been sitting around for awhile, before attempting to put them on.

Interestingly, the Brown Recluse has only three pairs of eyes instead of the usual four.

The Recluse is recognizable because of a violin shape on its head.

If the spider is in the house, it does need to be removed because of the risk to humans.

There are glue traps you can use or you can kill the spider directly if it is found.

If you are bitten by a brown recluse or black widow, kill the spider and bring it with you to the emergency room for identification and treatment.

Fun With Spiders

You may have seen some very large spiders around the outside of your home or in your garden.

These spiders are usually some variation of yellow and black.

They make large, neat webs and can be quite startling because of their size.

Most likely this spider is a Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (pictured below).

Their webs are very strong and have even been used to make clothing.

They are also very fun to feed and watch.

Golden Orb spiders vary based on region.  They are usually large and make very large, neat webs.  They are a perfect, outdoor pet spider.

Golden Orb spiders vary based on region. They are usually large and make very large, neat webs. They are a perfect, outdoor pet spider.

Feeding a Golden Silk-Orb Weaver

These large spiders are harmless to humans but because of their large size they provide great pest control for your home and garden.

The larger spiders can even eat roaches and grasshoppers.

To encourage the spider, you can also catch and feed her bugs yourself.

  • Simply find and catch a nuisance bug such as a Japanese Beetle.
  • Get directly in front of the web.
  • Gently toss the bug into the web (on the lower part, where the spider is facing is best if the web is clean with no tears).
  • Watch as the spider comes down, attacks the bug and then neatly wraps it up into a pouch made of its silky web.
  • If the spider is hungry, she will likely eat the bug right then by poking into it with her fangs and sucking the insides out.
  • If not she has a fresh wrapped bug saved for later.
  • The spider will sometimes dislodge the bug and take it with her to the center of the web or she may leave it wrapped in the spot.
  • Later you can find the hollowed out and discarded carcass below the web.
  • This a great way part of nature for kids to watch and learn about empathy and respect for all living creatures.

Golden Orb Spider Wrapping Up A Wasp

Take Aways

The next time you see a spider or a spider web, your first reaction shouldn't be to kill the spider and remove the web.

Consider whether the spider can do some good in its location.

Spiders are signs of a healthy and balanced environment.

They deserve our protection for the work they do.

Humans and spiders can coexist peacefully.

References and Further Reading


L C David (author) from Florida on May 13, 2013:

I didn't think of that but it makes sense! We might be our own worst enemies when it comes to overuse of pesticides.

Melody Collins from United States on May 13, 2013:

An interesting fact is that spiders love to eat bed bugs. They are natural predators. If a home has bed bugs, it might be a good idea to let the spiders live. They won't cure an infestation, but every little bit helps!

L C David (author) from Florida on May 02, 2013:

Thanks Thomas Swan and pstraubie48. I think that many do not realize just what a fantastic creature spiders really are.

The golden orb spiders in Tennesse are bright yellow and black and they used to be all aroud my childhood home. I could occupy most of a summer morning catching bugs for them.

We do have some beautiful spiders here in Florida now, don't we pstraubie48. I love the little round ones with the spikes sticking out everywhere and the black ones that have one neon orange spot.

Thanks to both of you for stopping by and commenting.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 02, 2013:

Well done....I like spiders....when there is a wall or screen between me and them or when they are high up on a beautifully woven web. They are amazing to watch as they work. And the magnificent colors cause me to stop and take a second look every time.

Shared :) ps

Thomas Swan from New Zealand on May 02, 2013:

I live in England, but this was a good read nonetheless. I tend to pick them up on a sheet of paper and pop them out the window. I had a "pet" spider when I was younger. It was living in the garden, so not really a pet, and it disappeared after a few weeks I think. It was about half an inch across with a large body and small legs. It was yellow and black and made a beautiful web. When I stayed in Tennesssee for a while a few years back, my apartment was cheap and had some holes, so I'd sometimes gets beetles and spiders running across the floor. I once trapped a spider with a beetle twice its size under a glass and watched the show. The spider won!

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