Overview

We’ve all discovered unwelcome spiders in our homes. You may find these eight-legged critters to be creepy, or you may even be terrified of them. The majority of spiders are harmless to humans and nothing to fear. Spiders can even be helpful to have around, since they eat fleas, crickets, and other small insects that enter your home.

That said, there are a couple types of poisonous spiders that you should be aware of. Read on to learn more about spiders, how they might affect you, and how to get rid of them.

Are spiders poisonous?

The brown recluse and black widow are two types of spiders you want to avoid. It’s rare to find these types of spiders in your home, but if you do, be sure to eliminate them immediately.

Brown recluse

Brown recluse spiders are most commonly found throughout the south-central and Midwestern United States. Similar species live in the southwestern United States and southern California. If you live in these regions, you’ll want to keep an eye out. Brown recluse spiders can live and survive in cold environments, such as unheated basements, or hot environments, such as attics. They can also go months without food or water. The brown recluse hunts and feeds at night, and it hides during the day. At night, it may wander into shoes, clothing, or bedding, and it could bite you if it inadvertently becomes trapped against your skin.

Brown recluse spiders rarely bite humans. The bites are initially painless but will become red, swollen, and tender in about three hours. Brown recluse bites aren’t life-threatening, and most don’t cause serious complications. However, they can progress to a larger blister and continue to a large ulcer that lasts for months and leaves a deep scar. Rarely, symptoms of fever, chills, dizziness, rash, or vomiting may occur. Such symptoms are more common in children, the elderly, and patients in poor health. Persons bitten by a brown recluse spider should apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek medical attention immediately. If you suspect you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, see your doctor. They’ll want to prevent infection and make sure the bite isn’t something more serious like a staph infection, which can resemble the body’s response to a brown recluse bite.

Black widows

Black widows are the quintessential venomous spider. Easy to recognize by the red hourglass shape on their abdomens, they tend to inhabit the east coast and the Midwest, and they can be found as far north as Canada.

A bite from a black widow can cause an instant reaction in humans, including symptoms such as nausea, body aches, and difficulty breathing. While unpleasant, most black widow bites don’t cause serious long-term damage or death. Although bites are usually only fatal to small children, the elderly, or those already in poor health, anyone bitten by the black widow spider should seek medical attention immediately. First aid for black widow spider bites involves cleaning the wound and applying ice packs to slow absorption of venom.

Remember, humans aren’t the prey of any spider. Spiders bite humans and pets in self-defense when frightened or disturbed. If you spot a spider you suspect is poisonous, the best thing to do is leave it alone until you can take the proper steps to get rid of it.

How do I get rid of spiders?

While spiders can keep your home free of other small pests, a spider infestation isn’t ideal for most people. If you spot spiders in your home, you have options for how to eliminate them and prevent a future infestation. Here are 6 tips.

1. Remove all clutter.

Clear all debris like lawn clippings, branches, limbs, and wood away from the outside of your house, and clean out all clutter from any dark, cool, and dry places in your home, such as your basement or attic. Spiders love calling these spots home. When removing yard waste and cleaning clutter, be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from unwanted bites.

If you live in area known for brown recluse or black widow spiders, and you believe you have an infestation, you may want to contact a professional exterminator. They can quickly and effectively get rid of harmful spiders.

2. Seal all entries.

Take a close look at your home, including the inside of your closets and crawl spaces, and seal up any wall cracks or crevices that could be entry points for spiders. This way, no new spiders will be able to get in.

3. Set glue traps.

Once you’re able to remove all clutter and seal up all the spider entry points in your home, you may want to add another line of defense. Glue mousetraps work great for capturing spiders. Just place the sticky traps wherever you suspect the spiders might be entering your home, and the traps will catch the spiders as they try to crawl inside.

4. Spread bug spray or dust.

Another low-cost way to prevent spiders from getting into your home is to purchase a bug spray at your local grocery or hardware store. Review what’s available and decide what’s best for you, and then spray the areas where you suspect the spiders are entering. This will deter them from entering. A pesticide dust may be applied in areas where spiders travel, including inside walls.

5. Natural spray.

You can also create your own spray solution with liquid dish soap, water, and essential oils. Some people have found that citrus-based, tea tree, lavender, neem, or peppermint essential oils work to deter spiders. You can also add a splash of vinegar to the spray. Spray the mixture into cracks and crevices and anywhere else you believe spiders are living. It won’t kill the bugs, but the scent will prevent them from entering and keep them away in the future.

6. Hire a pest-control specialist.

You can go one step further by hiring a pest-control company. While costly, they are very knowledgeable and will have useful tips for fixing your spider problem. They will also use an insecticide they believe will work the best for your home and family. Most pest control companies will also set up a warranty program, meaning they’ll continue to address your spider problem until you’re satisfied.

The bottom line

While a spider infestation may feel overwhelming, luckily it’s a manageable issue. Many spiders are important to the circle of life and can help you control other pesky small insects in your home.

You have options for preventing and getting rid of spiders. Remember that while you can make every attempt to keep spiders out, they may return. If the problem persists, you may want to call a pest-control professional.

If you suspect you have a brown recluse or black window infestation in your home, it’s important to have the situation corrected quickly. If think you’ve been bitten by one of these spiders, seek medical attention.