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House Spiders

Classification: Arachnid
Other names: Cobweb weavers, comb-footed spiders
Color: Dull brown or gray
Size: ¼ to 1 inch long (males slightly smaller than females)
Eats: Smaller insects it traps on web
Hazard to humans: Minimal. It can bite, but venom is not dangerous (unless the person has an allergy to spider bites.)
Interesting fact: The American House spider will usually try to run away when threatened, but it may also choose to play dead instead.

House Spiders Make Themselves at Home Everywhere

Every state except Alaska has some variety of house spiders living within its borders. One common species in Maryland is the American house spider:

  • Dull brown or gray in color so that it can blend in easily
  • Bulbous abdomen
  • Long skinny legs with a spinneret (to help in weaving) on the last segment of the fourth leg
  • ¼ inch long and up to 1 inch wide with legs outspread

House spiders may sometimes be mistaken for the brown widow spider, but it lacks the widow’s red hourglass on the abdomen.

Creators of Halloween cobwebs

House spiders favor human dwellings—sheds, garages, basements and attics—to the great outdoors. They build messy, tangled webs anyplace that they can, around windows, in corners, and between two adjoining edges in a building (between wall and ceiling, for example).  Females often build their webs close together, but they will fight if the contact becomes too close.

When feeding, house spiders wait at the center of their web and when they feel a disturbance will throw out a silken strand to entrap their prey.  They inject venom into their victims, wrap them and move them off the web to devour later (and to clear the web for the next victim).

The female house spider can lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime, but generally lays about 250 at a time in a brown, tear-shaped sac that hangs on the web. They protect that sac until the young spiders hatch.

House spiders live about a year after reaching maturity.

Cleaning out the cobwebs

The American House spider is in the same family as the black widow, but its venom is much less toxic and won’t harm humans. These spiders rarely bite anyway, unless they feel threatened.

Cobwebs are messy, however, and many homeowners would prefer not to have to constantly clean them out.  To rid your home of house spiders you can try:

  • Vacuuming the webs (and spiders) up and disposing of them outdoors
  • Sealing cracks and crevices around the home that may be letting them in
  • Applying some kind of perimeter treatment to discourage unwelcome visitors

If the cobwebs keep reappearing, it’s time to get professional help with your spider problem. Call Brody Brothers and we’ll help you get the web out.

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