Spiders play an extremely beneficial role in the ecosystem as they prey on other insect pests. Very few are dangerous to humans, even if they are venomous, because people are not their intended prey and their fangs are too small to penetrate human skin. Those that can bite a person would rather run away and won’t bite unless they are harmed or threatened.
The eight best treatments for spiders are as follows:
- Regular vacuuming and cleaning
- Using strong-smelling oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus in the home
- Vinegar sprays
- Boric acid
- Diatomaceous earth
- Yellow outside lights
- Insecticide sprays and dust
- Calling in professional pest control companies
Most spiders within the home are, at worst, an unsightly nuisance with their webs, feces, and prey remains. Spiders in the garden should be left alone to live their lives unless they represent a clear and present danger to children or pets. Many people fear or dislike spiders, and some have arachnophobia which means they don’t want to live with spiders indoors.
Eight Best Spider Treatments
Killing spiders doesn’t address the problem entirely because the house will continue to attract other spiders as long as there are insects. Treatments should be a combination of eradication and prevention.
- Regularly vacuuming and cleaning the house, especially in dark corners, cracks, crevices, and keeping clutter to a minimum, dramatically reduces the risk of spider infestations. You can also use brooms to remove webs in high places and spiders and their egg sacs.
- Using strong-smelling oils and plants around the house such as peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, tea-tree, lavender, and spearmint repels many spiders and other insect pests.
- Boric acid can be used in areas where spiders are known to hide, but it is not safe for children and pets. It has the advantage of killing the spiders and their insect prey.
- Reduce the attraction outside lights hold for insects by installing yellow LEDs or sodium vapor lamps. Fewer insects will attract fewer spiders.
- The acidity in the vinegar will kill many spiders on contact, so spraying them with vinegar is an eco-friendly treatment.
- Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to humans but deadly to spiders and insects because it contains sharp microscopic shards that destroy their exoskeletons, causing them to die from dehydration. It kills spiders and many of the insects they prey on, reducing the risk of spiders entering the house from outside.
- Insecticides with pyrethrins in them kill spiders on contact. These come in the form of dust and sprays of various kinds. Dust works well in low foot-traffic areas such as attics and basements and can be puffed into cracks and crevices with small bellows. Residual insecticides can be sprayed around the outside of the house as a barrier but may have to be re-applied periodically.
- Use a pest control company to eradicate severe infestations of black widow spiders and brown recluses in the home.
Different Types of Spiders
Not all spiders make webs. Some are hunters attracted by the insect population within the home and can be found on floors, walls, or ceilings, hanging around light sources that attract their prey. In North America, the only spiders that can harm a person with their bite are the black widow and brown recluse.
Other spiders commonly found in and around the home are:
- Wolf spider
- American house spider
- Hobo spider
- Jumping spider
- Daddy longlegs
- Yellow sac spider
- Grass spider
All of which are mostly harmless. Now let us go over information about some of the different types of spiders mentioned above and how you can treat them.
1. Black Widow Spider
Black widows are small shiny black spiders with plump, globular bodies with a red hourglass pattern on the underside of the abdomen. They belong to the Latrodectus genus, which contains many species and includes the black and brown widow spiders.
In the United States, there are two different species of black widows; the northern black widow and a southern black widow. Other widow spiders occurring in North America are the red widow and the brown widow.
Northern Black Widow
The northern black widow spider has a row of red dots running down the middle of the top of its abdomen. The dots along its back are not always red and can be white or yellow. Some of them have white stripes across the abdomen.
The northern black widow is commonly found in the Eastern United States and ranges from Southern Canada to Florida, going west to Oklahoma, Kansas, and East Texas. The hourglass shape underneath its abdomen is commonly split down the middle or incomplete and, in some cases, altogether absent. They are usually found outdoors in crawlspaces, shed corners, brush piles, and hollow logs.
Southern Black Widow
The southern black widow is found throughout the southeastern U.S., including Florida, Ohio, and Texas. Its scientific name is Latrodectus mactans. It occurs in the same areas as the brown widow, Latrodectus geometricus, the red widow, Latrodectus bishopi, and the northern black widow, Latrodectus variolus. The adult females are shiny black with the characteristic red hourglass shape.
Unlike with other widow spiders, the southern widow’s hourglass is complete. Males are smaller than females and don’t have the hourglass but may have red dots on the top or underside of the abdomen.
Female black widows construct a spherical egg sac made of spiderweb that is cream or off-white. The sac hangs inside the web.
Venom Of A Widow
Although the venom of a black widow spider is fifteen times as toxic as rattlesnake venom, the amount it can inject is tiny. A rattlesnake can inject far more venom, so its bite is much more severe than a black widow’s. The chances of dying from a black widow spider bite are less than one percent, and the few deaths that have occurred were mostly in children.
Although they are the most venomous spiders in North America, a bite from a Black Widow will rarely kill a human. They are called widow spiders because the female will often eat the much smaller male after mating.
Their Diet & Prey For Other Insects
Black widows make small erratic webs that don’t have a noticeable pattern. Their diet consists of various insects, including crickets, moths, flies, beetles, and grasshoppers. They can be instrumental in controlling harvester ants and red fire ants. Although they only kill a few individual insects, the remaining ants change their foraging and other behaviors resulting in reduced ant populations.
Wasps, centipedes, and scorpions eat southern black widows, and brown widows also seem to decrease the black widow population due to their higher reproduction rate. While brown widows, originally from Africa, have a more potent venom than black widows, they are less of a threat to people because they are timider. If disturbed, the brown widow curls up in a defensive posture rather than attacking.
A bit by a black widow usually recovers within twenty-four hours following treatment, and deaths are rare.
Treatment Of Widow Spider Bites
Regardless of the type of widow spider, treatment of bites typically consists of wound care, muscle relaxants, calcium gluconate, and narcotic analgesics. Antivenin is available and may be used in patients with a severe reaction to the bite. It is not administered as a matter of course because there could be an allergic reaction to the horse serum used in the manufacture of the antivenin. However, it can be highly effective if administered within three hours of the bite.
Medical assistance should be sought immediately, particularly if the bite victim is a child or pregnant woman. Symptoms include:
- Severe pain
- Burning pain
- Redness in the bite area, usually on the hand or foot
The venom affects the nervous system and can also cause nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, sweating, muscle pain and stiffness, difficulty breathing, tremors, and weakness in the legs.
Different individuals have varied responses to the venom. Some may have a severe reaction, while others are only slightly affected.
Since widows are mainly nocturnal, a person may not even know they have been bitten. First aid for a suspected spider bite includes washing the bite site with soap, applying ice, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, elevating the affected limb, and applying antibiotic cream. If the spider is still visible, capture or kills it, place it in a jar or baggie and take it with you to show the doctor.
Treatments For Widow Spiders
Wear Protective Gear
Wear gloves when gardening or doing yard work or when working in outhouses and basements. These spiders like to live under outdoor toilet seats and in swimming pool pump housings. You can prevent indoor bites by shaking out shoes before putting them on, shaking out rubber boots and gardening clothes, and wearing gloves when sorting through boxes and other items that have been stored in attics or basements.
Other favorite spider hideouts are vehicles, mailboxes, behind window shutters, and dark corners. Black widows don’t go out hunting because they make webs about a foot off the ground to catch their prey. It’s best to search for them during the day when you can undoubtedly see their webs.
Come back after dark to kill the spiders when they are active.
Spray or sprinkle residual insecticides in the area around their webs if you don’t want to kill them. Powders and dust are best used in areas with no foot traffic, such as basements, attics, wall voids, and crawl spaces. Sprays work better under beds, behind and under furniture, and in dark corners. They will not necessarily kill all the spiders, so you should use them in conjunction with other methods.
Terminate the Spider
You can also kill the spider by hitting it with a hard object, vacuuming it up, or spraying it directly with insecticides. To kill the spider, the spray must come into contact with it. Using non-residual sprays kills the spider quickly without leaving poisonous resides behind. These operations are best conducted after dark when the spiders are active. Always wear gloves and closed shoes as black widows will sometimes run towards you when under attack.
Get Rid of the Eggs
Eliminating their egg sacs is essential because these can contain hundreds of juveniles. Spraying them generously with insecticide or vacuuming them up are the most effective methods and don’t allow the young to escape. If you have pets, small children, or older adults in the house, they are more at risk than healthy adults. If widow spiders occur in large numbers in your home environment, you may wish to call a professional pest exterminator.
Regularly Clean Your Home
Thorough regular household cleaning and spraying the outside of the house around doorframes and under window ledges with a power hose goes a long way to preventing widow spiders from taking up residence.
They are naturally shy and prefer quiet, undisturbed places to construct their webs. Black widows love moisture, so sealing leaking pipes and cracks and crevices around toilets, basins, and bathroom walls also helps keep them out.
Keeps Plants Away From Outside Walls
Cut plants away from outside walls and don’t stack woodpiles against them. Wear thick gloves when moving wood or carrying firewood inside and inspect it for spiders before picking it up. Other spider species can reduce the number of widow spiders around by competing with them for food, so avoid killing them wherever possible.
More environmentally friendly ways of dealing with spiders include:
- Encourage wrens to live in the garden by installing nestboxes sprinkled with breadcrumbs or pieces of apple inside. Wrens prey on many insects and spiders, including widows.
- Using certain scents such as lemon, spearmint or peppermint oil, and eucalyptus around the house to repel spiders. You can use them in diffusers, spray bottles mixed with water, or even plant them in the garden, break off sprigs and place them around the house.
- Leave other harmless spiders alone.
2. Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse is the other spider found in the United States that is harmful to humans. Its venom can sometimes cause cell necrosis, resulting in deep, ugly wounds that take a long time to heal. They are usually medium to light brown but can be whitish, dark brown, or blackish gray. Due to the violin-shaped markings on the top of their thorax, they are commonly referred to as violin spiders, fiddle-back spiders, or brown fiddlers.
However, these markings are not exclusive to brown recluses, as similar ones are found on other types of spiders, such as pirate spiders and cellar spiders. The one factor distinguishing the brown recluse from most other spiders is that it has six eyes instead of eight. The eyes are arranged in pairs, and the legs are light-colored with no spines, banding, or stripes.
Brown recluses have a range that includes Southeastern Nebraska, Southern Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Southwestern Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Western Georgia. It belongs to the Loxosceles genus of arachnids, and other spiders are often confused with it, resulting in misidentifications.
The violin pattern can be lighter or dark depending on the spider’s age, with older spiders have darker markings. Brown recluses have relatively long, smooth legs with a bulbous abdomen covered with short fine hairs. They usually run away when threatened and can play dead and don’t make webs out in the open.
Brown recluses build irregular webs in sheds, cellars, woodpiles, closets, garages, and other dry and undisturbed places. They seem to like cardboard boxes, maybe because it is similar to the rotting tree bark that they usually inhabit. They are nocturnal hunters that leave their webs looking for prey.
Treatment For Brown Recluse Bites
Bites usually occur when the spider is inadvertently trapped against the skin in a shoe, on bedding, or an item of clothing. Brown recluses may be seen in the day on walls, floors, and other exposed surfaces, but this could be due to hunger, pesticides, or overcrowding, as they usually come out at night. These spiders have tiny fangs that cannot bite through clothing.
Most bites by a brown recluse are minor, but a small number can produce necrosis and even systemic illness. It is not an aggressive spider, and bites are uncommon. Other medical conditions such as pyoderma gangrenosum, diabetic ulcers, Lyme disease, a bad reaction to a medication, or necrotizing bacterial infections are often mistaken for spider bites.
The Bite Typically Heals Itself
The bite is initially painless, and the victim often does not become aware of it until three to eight hours later when it becomes swollen, red, and tender. The majority of bites heal within three weeks with no medical intervention or serious complications.
There may be a central blister, and the wound can expand slowly over days or weeks as the venom continues to destroy the surrounding tissue. Such a necrotic ulcer may last for several months and leave a deep scar.
Less Common Symptoms
Less common symptoms include rash, vomiting, dizziness, chills, and fever. These are more likely in children and the elderly. First aid for a bite includes elevation and the application of ice. You should seek medical attention immediately.
It is difficult to diagnose a spider bite by just looking at the wound, even for doctors. Staphylococcus aureus infections produce lesions similar to brown recluse bites, as can the bites of other insects.
A major clue to rule out a brown recluse bite is the geographical region in which the victim lives or works. These spiders are not widespread across the entire U.S. and only occur in certain states.
Typically, You Won’t Need Treatment
The brown recluse has undeserved notoriety, according to entomologists. They say that ninety percent of brown recluse spider bites are not medically significant and often heal well without treatment. First aid for a brown recluse bite involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Another thing you can do is apply activated charcoal on top of the wound. This helps with not just spider bites but all insect bites you currently have. You or mix activated charcoal with just enough water to create a paste. To avoid staining your shirts, wear a band-aid over the wound.
Treatments For Brown Recluse Spiders
It is challenging to eradicate brown recluses because of their secretive ways. They do not advertise their presence and avoid detection by making their webs in dark and undisturbed areas in buildings and walls. Reducing clutter means they have fewer hiding places and makes treatment more effective.
When sorting through the junk in basements and attics, wear gloves if you live in the brown recluse country. Keep the home clean by regularly vacuuming baseboards, bed skirts, cupboards, and on top of cabinets and dusting in corners and under furniture. Egg sacs can be sucked up with a vacuum cleaner, as can the spiders themselves.
Potential hiding places such as corners, junctions between walls and floors, old cardboard boxes, garages, baseboards, attics, basements, windowsills, rafters, and suspended ceilings should be inspected using a bright flashlight. Measures such as moving beds away from walls, removing bed skirts, shaking out shoes and clothing before putting them on, and reducing clutter will reduce the risk of a bite.
Use White Vinegar
Vinegar spray can kill a brown recluse if it comes into contact with it because the acidity is toxic. The spiders also don’t like eucalyptus and other strong-smelling oils and herbs such as tea tree oil, lavender, and peppermint oil.
Once identified, you can treat the spiders’ hangouts with insecticide dust, especially cracks, crevices, and crawl spaces. The dust should be applied sparingly in a fine layer that is hardly visible. If the dust layer is too thick, the spiders will avoid walking over it, and it needs to come into direct contact with them to be effective.
Liquid and aerosol insecticides can be sprayed directly onto webs and the spiders themselves if they are visible. It is difficult to penetrate wall voids and crevices with sprays, so dusts are a better choice in these areas. Insecticides containing deltamethrin, bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and cyfluthrin work spiders and crawling insects like cockroaches and ants.
Diatomaceous Earth Treatment
Diatomaceous earth is toxic to insects and spiders, but not humans, and can be spread lightly at wall and floor junctions and in corners, sheds, basements, attics, and garages. It is abrasive and damages the exoskeleton of the spider.
You can plant rosemary, lemongrass, lemon balm, lavender, and other strongly scented herbs in the garden. Sprigs can be broken off and placed on windowsills and above doors and other potential entry points.
Call In The Experts
If the infestation is severe, the aid of professional pest controllers should be enlisted. Installing yellow lights in and around the house reduces the number of insects that the spiders eat. Sticky traps don’t work too well as eradication because the females don’t move around much. However, they may assist in ascertaining whether you have a brown recluse infestation.
3. Wolf Spider
These spiders don’t make webs as they actively hunt their insect prey. They usually enter homes by accident as they prefer living in grassy or leafy areas outdoors. If disturbed or threatened, they can deliver a painful bite as they have strong fangs. Most of them are dark brown and look pretty fierce and aggressive because they move fast.
Wear Proper Gear
They aren’t dangerous to humans and can be captured by placing a glass, jar, or plastic cup over them and then sliding a piece of stiff paper or cardboard under it. Release it outdoors away from the house. Wearing rubber gloves while trapping a spider in this way further reduces the risk of a bite.
They can be sucked up with a vacuum cleaner or killed with the hard edge of a broom or other solid object. A wolf spider bite is not toxic to people but can sting significantly, and allergic reactions to the venom are possible. They can be removed from outside walls using a jet of water from a garden hose.
Sealing Cracks & Holes
Wolf spiders are easy to track in the dark because their eyes reflect the light from a flashlight, so you can hunt them individually if you are so inclined. Spraying a mix of peppermint oil and water around windows and in doorways repels them. Sealing cracks and holes in walls and around windows inside and outside prevents them from coming into the house.
Use Yellow-colored LED Lights Outside Your Home
Using yellow-colored LEDs or sodium vapor lights outside the house attracts fewer insects, attracting fewer wolf-spiders. At night, drawing curtains and closing blinds or shades will attract fewer insects to indoor lights. These methods are particularly effective against wolf spiders because they hunt at night.
Spraying insecticides designed for spiders will only kill those already inside but won’t necessarily prevent more from coming in. Residual insecticides last a bit longer on treated surfaces and may be more effective in repelling them long-term. For maximum effect, they should be applied to floors because wolf spiders hunt on the ground.
Insecticides that contain pyrethroids usually include residual poisons that can be sprayed or sprinkled as a powder. Bifenthrin, permethrin, cyfluthrin, and tetramethrin are all pyrethroids and are effective against wolf-spiders. Organic pesticides that contain Hexa-hydroxyl are safe for pets and people and are also effective against spiders. They come as a powder that you can sprinkle in dark corners, basements, and under furniture.
Boric acid can also be scattered in cracks, dark corners, and under floorboards and furniture.
Sticky traps are another way to treat a spider problem, but many consider them cruel because the spiders they catch die slowly of starvation. They don’t work for all spiders but will work for wolf spiders who walk on the ground rather than on walls and ceilings.
4. Daddy Longlegs
Contrary to popular belief, daddy longlegs or cellar spiders aren’t venomous. These names call several species. They are tiny spiders with long thin, delicate legs found in basements and attics and are no threat to humans. They can keep the numbers of insect pests down and so are good to have around.
For arachnophobes, they can easily be disposed of by sucking them and their webs up with a vacuum cleaner.
Only kill spiders if they represent a real danger to humans. Spiders have a right to live out in the garden, where they play an essential role and can be prevented from coming indoors in many different ways. If you have a severe infestation of black widows or brown recluses in the house, it is best to call in professional pest control.