Ag Notes: Many spiders shouldn't be unwelcome house guests

August 18, 2004|JERRY LITTLE

Spiders may cause images of eerie webs in basements, attics and abandoned buildings or maybe painful life-threatening bits. However, most spiders are harmless, beneficial insects that help control other pests.

Kentucky has hundreds of different spider species. About 2,500 species are in North America. Although spiders can be found in the home all year long, they are more abundant during the warm summer and early fall weather.

Most spiders are "accidental visitors" that enter homes and buildings through openings such as doors and windows. Homes near ideal spider habitats such as area or those with landscaped or naturalized foundations are more prone to frequent invasions.

Spiders that prefer dark, shaded areas may become established in closets, basements and attics, or beneath heavy, inaccessible furniture. Other species may live in holes in the ground or beneath rocks or logs.


Although spiders prey on flies, crickets, and other insects, the unsightly webs outweigh their benefits to people who simply do not tolerate them in the home.

Most spiders do not bite unless they are held or trapped. Most spiders also have fangs that are too small or weak to puncture human skin. However, some spiders will bite, creating results similar to a wasp or bee sting. It is possible for a person to have allergic reaction to the venom spiders produce to kill or paralyze prey.

Routine, thorough cleaning is the most effective way to keep spiders out of your home or office. A vacuum cleaner and broom are useful to remove spiders, their webs and egg sacs. Cleaning also discourages spiders from returning. Spiders like quiet, undisturbed areas so put out the "unwelcome mat" by reducing clutter in closets, garages and attics.

Since spiders congregate around the outdoor perimeter of buildings, reduce indoors by clipping back shrubs, tree branches and vines. A vegetative-free zone reduces moisture around the foundation and siding to make this area less to spiders as well as termites and carpenter ants and help prevent decay. To deter spiders, keep firewood, building materials and debris away from the foundation.

Applying insecticides as a barrier treatment at the base of the foundation also will prevents spider entry from outdoors. Wettable powder or micro-encapsulated (slow ) formulations are the most effective. Longer-lasting liquids are available from some retail outlets. When applying insecticides, pay close attention to door thresholds and entrances to garages and crawl spaces.

Be sure window screens and door sweeps fit tightly to exclude spiders and other insects. Also clean behind outdoor window shutters.

Installing yellow light bulbs at entrances is another way to reduce these crawling visitors because these lights repel less attractive to night-flying insects that attract spiders.

County Cooperative Extension offices have publications and other educational materials to help residents make their homes unwelcome to pests.


The banker took his ledger out. The rancher took a seat.

"Let's see, I lent you twenty thousand for cattle, corn and wheat. Let's talk about cattle first."

The rancher's face looked pained. "You know how bad the market's been. Lost fifteen, " he explained.

The banker was confused. "Fifteen what! Fifteen cents a pound? Fifteen died of thirst?"

"Nope, Fifteen thousand dollars lost, but, hey, it could be worse."

The banker swallowed hard then asked. "Well, what about your grain?"

"Well," said the farmer. "The hoppers ate up all my wheat, the sweet corn rain, the pigs got sick, and my son got drunk and joined the Moonies' Church! I figger I'm down forty thousand but, hey, it could be worse!"

"Whataya mean, 'It could be worse!' That ain't even funny!" cried the banker.

The rancher shrugged and then replied, " Could'a been my money."

Jerry Little is County Extension Agent for Agriculture/Natural Resources

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