While you may not think of their presence as a good thing if a spider surprises you when you open your closet door, spiders are actually beneficial. According to the Ohio State University Extension, most spiders are harmless to humans. Spiders prefer to avoid human contact and won't generally bite unless grabbed. While you have the option to use sticky traps or insecticides to rid your closet of arachnids, consider one of these less lethal methods first.
Identify Your Spiders
Once you know more about spiders, you may be less afraid and even begin to identify with the creatures. Wolf spiders are big, scary-looking and move fast, but they are not aggressive. The mother spider carries her spiderlings on her back. Cellar spiders tend to hide in corners. Males and females live together on the same web. Cobweb spiders build sticky webs and catch annoying flying insects.
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Spiders may come into your home to seek shelter from temperature extremes. You may notice a greater number of spiders in the fall, as temperatures drop. If you notice only a few spiders, you can simply catch and release them. Cover the spider with an empty can or plastic cup, then delicately slide a sheet of paper or thin cardboard under the lip of the cup to cover the top. Carry the spider to a door or window and release it unharmed back into the yard. If you're worried that the spider will come back in, carry it several yards away from your home and place it near shelter, such as a log or compost pile.
To exclude spiders from your home, inspect the exterior, and seal any cracks and other openings you find. Eliminate damp spaces within your home that may attract spiders' prey. Repair or replace any damaged window and door screens. Keep your landscape well-groomed. Remove litter and debris around your home that may shelter spiders.
Eliminate the spiders' food source. Spiders feed upon insect pests that can cause a range of problems in your household, including flies, mites, clothes moths and silverfish. The presence of spiders may signal a pest problem. Many of the same steps you can take to eliminate spiders will also help eliminate these pests.
In and Around the Closet
Regular cleaning will remove many spiders, webs and egg sacs, but if you vacuum, you should remove the vacuum cleaner bag immediately and dispose of it outside, notes the Ohio State University Extension. Store items in your closet off the floor so that they are out of the way of some spiders. Shake out shoes and clothing before you put them on. Seal boxes with tape to eliminate entry points for spiders.
- Washington State University Extension: Spiders; Sharon J. Collman, et al.; December 2003
- Ohio State University Extension: Spiders In and Around the House; Susan C. Jones, Ph.D.
- University of Maine: Spiders; James F. Dill
- University of Minnesota Extension: Common Spiders In and Around Homes; Jeffrey Hahn, et al.; 2008
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Southern House Spider, Kukulcania (= Filistata) Hibernalis Hentz (Arachnida: Arneae: Filistatidae); G. B. Edwards, et al.
- Penn State University Entomology: Common House Spider; Steve Jacobs; 2006
- Washington State University Extension: Frequently Asked Questions About Spiders