Some info on spiders
As spring is approaching and the bug season begins, The editors of Your Home Quarterly had a chance recently to sit down with Steve Thompson*, from ALL-PRO Pest Control, to get a brief insight into the world of Spiders, and to get to the bottom of some rumors and myths about these eight-legged creatures.
YHQ: Ok, Steve, what’s the deal on these spiders everyone calls Vinegaroons? I understand if they bite, among other things, everything will taste like vinegar.
Thompson: False. First of all, we don’t have Vinergaroons here in the desert or anywhere else in California. The animal, most people, are seeing is actually the Solpudgid or Sun Spider. These are actually beneficial to have around. They eat bugs of all types and spiders too, Including the Black Widow Spider. In fact, they really aren’t Spiders at all. By definition, Spiders must have fangs, venom, and web-making spinnerettes; the Solpudgid has none of these, doesn’t bite, and is completely harmless… Unless you’re a bug!
YHQ: So, speaking of the Black Widow, How dangerous are they really, and can you give me a short lesson on their biology?
Thompson: Sure. Although I’m sure most of us have seen these, the Black Widow is usually shiny black in color, averages about the size of a nickel, and has a distinct red hourglass on her belly. Some of the immature spiders, though, may actually have streaks of white on the back of her abdomen, even a lightning bolt pattern. As the spider ages, the white turns red and moves to her underside. The Spider usually hangs upside down in her web, waiting for food (bugs) to get caught in her web. She likes to be out at night. The female can live up to 3 years, the male only 1 to 3 months. Oh, and by the way, she doesn’t always eat the male. If he’s fast enough, that is, to escape.
Although the Black Widow Spider is considered the most venomous spider in North America (Ounce per ounce, the venom is 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake), the bite of the Black widow is rarely fatal. Pain is usually quick, with a pinprick feeling, then nausea, sweating, and abdominal or neck pain. The bite may result in muscle aches or even paralysis of the diaphragm- which can make breathing difficult. Symptoms may last several days. I would consider the bite a medical emergency, especially for the very young or aged. Time for a trip to the E. R.
YHQ: The truth, please, about the Brown Recluse Spider.
Thompson: This one gets a little complicated. The Brown Recluse that everyone fears (Loxosceles reclusa) Is not native to this area or to Southern California in general. There is a “cousin” to this spider, called the Desert Recluse (Loxosceles Deserta), which might be occasionally found out in the desert, in the sand washes for example. In my 35 years of being in the pest control industry, I have never seen a Brown recluse in the Wild. I have seen only 1, and that was at Ft. Irwin, in a soldier’s quarters. He had recently moved in from Louisiana, where spider is abundant. I think the spider hitch-hiked here inside the soldier’s belongings!
Now, I know that most everyone knows of someone who has been bitten by a recluse, but we are discovering that most of these bites are actually Miss-diagnosed! Some staff infections will manifest with the same ulcerating wound (necrosis), so I can understand the confusion. But no, I don’t consider the Brown recluse Spider to be the foe most people make it out to be.
YHQ: Great info, Steve; I’m sure we could go on, but let’s get to the bottom line: when I see Spiders, do I need to hire an exterminator?
Thompson: We have a lot of regular customers who have hired us to do Spider control, but the first thing I always tell them is that pesticide treatment alone will probably not control the spiders. One of the challenges is the fact that they can reproduce very quickly. A black widow, for example, can lay up to 900 eggs at a time! We practice this industry which is called integrated pest management. That’s where the customer and the pest control professional work together by keeping debris around the home to a minimum, keeping the spider webs down, making sure that water leaks are repaired, firewood is stored away from the home, and bushes/trees trimmed. Even something as simple as shutting off the porch light can detract spiders. Another place where a professional pest controller might help would be in eliminating the food that attracts the spiders- that being Insects. What I say about pests and house guests is this: “If you don’t want them, don’t feed them”. I suggest that Spider control starts early in the season, even before you start seeing them.
*Steve Thompson of All-Pro Pest Control has been licensed in the pest control industry in California for over 35 years. His career has had him working or consulting on homes, businesses, cruise ships, airliners, trains, and even at some of our local military installations. He can be contacted at (760) 242-2344 or at: www.highdesertbestpestcontrol.com
Thanks to Your Home Quarterly for the interview