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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 27 October 2003



Spooked by Spiders?

Tim Gibb, Extension Entomologist, Department of Entomology, Purdue University

During late summer and fall, spiders often appear in and around homes and other buildings. In the vast majority of cases, spiders are welcome in our environments because they feed on insect pests and other small invertebrates. There is an old saying by authors unknown that illustrates mans’ long held appreciation of spiders: “ Kill a spider, bad luck yours will be, Until of flies you’ve swatted fifty-three.”

Hundreds of different species of spiders may occur in urban areas. Some are large, colorful and are relatively sluggish. Others are small, drab in color and can run very quickly. Some are considered ‘hunters’ and move about in search of prey. Other spiders spin ornate webs in landscape plantings or under the eaves of homes. Regardless of how a spider finds its food, constructs its nest, or gets into homes or yards, their presence should be considered good luck. However, even though only a very few spiders can deliver venomous bites to people, it is wise to treat all spiders with respect. Catching and removing those that enter the home is wise. Sticky traps are available over-the-counter, that are very effective in controlling ‘hunting’ spiders in the home.
Spiders that build webs outside of the buildings are of little concern as they will be gone after the first hard freeze. Removing their webbing is a small price to pay for the benefit that they provide in pest removal.

Learn more about spiders at:
http://www.uwex.edu/ces/wihort/landscape/GardenSpiders.htm

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Last updated: 28 October 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University