Identifying House Spiders


The sight of a spider racing across the floor usually sends chills coursing up and down a homeowner's spine. There are a great many different species of spiders in North America. However, the ones that generally concern people the most are those that carry a poisonous bite. Unless you are specially trained to study spiders, you'd likely need a microscope to identify the difference between most types of non-poisonous spiders. However, it's not too difficult to tell which ones are dangerous.

Common House Spiders

  • Although all North American spiders are poisonous to some degree, almost all of them either lack the toxicity or the biting-power to cause any harm to human tissue. Common house spiders like wolf spiders and funnel web spiders are often confused with more dangerous species and killed without much provocation. Although identifying one spider from the next may seem like a daunting task, the fact is that you only need to know how to identify two types of spiders to keep you and your family safe.

Widow Spiders

  • Commonly referred to as black widows, these spiders pack a powerful toxic payload. They are easily identified by their steely black exterior, long thin legs and hourglass shape. Although female black widow spiders are generally jet black, males and the very young may have a white or yellow stripe. Female black widows also tend to have a red spot beneath the abdomen and can grow as large as 1 1/2 inches long.

Brown Recluse Spiders

  • Many harmless spiders are confused with brown recluse spiders. However, you can easily identify brown spiders by the violin shape of their body. It is for this reason that they are commonly referred to as "fiddlebacks." Their color ranges from light tan to dark brown, and they usually grow no larger than 2 or 3 cm.

Killing Spiders

  • Although most people shutter at the sight of any type of spider, it's always best to resist the temptation to kill them indiscriminately. It may seem counter-intuitive, but allowing certain spiders to live and even flourish can help protect you and your family from more dangers species. Many non-poisonous spiders tend to compete with dangerous species over territory. Some species actually kill and eat venomous spiders. When spiders are killed or removed without prejudice, certain species are sometimes able to proliferate. Although it may be difficult to accept, the fact is that it is better to have many harmless spiders in the home than even a single poisonous one.

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