Now that spring is in the air, many of us will begin to think about sprucing up our outdoor living spaces. The potential for opening up that shed that’s been closed all winter, and finding spiders is high. All spiders are creepy, but, the only spider native to California known to inflict serious injury to humans is the black widow. Western black widow spiders are typically found outside, around the home and in clutter. In the garage, they usually make webs by doors, near vents, and in other places where they are guaranteed lots of insect traffic for food. Black widows are shy spiders that seek retreats such as a hole in a wall, or a space between two boards where they can hide during the day and then come out at night. In natural settings, you’ll often find them in rodent burrows and rock faces. The spider makes a web of tangled silk extending from this retreat hole. Caution should be taken as, the black widow’s web may not be visible in the sunlight, and you can easily stick your fingers into the wrong place.
The adult female black widow has a shiny black body, slender black legs, and a red or orange hourglass-shaped mark on the underside of a large, round abdomen. The body, excluding legs, is 5/16 to 5/8 inch long.
The best way to prevent spiders in your home is to reduce clutter build-up that can provide hiding places. Regularly vacuuming or sweeping windows, corners of rooms, storage areas, basements, and other seldom-used areas helps remove spiders and their webs. To prevent spiders from entering your home or commercial building, seal foundation cracks and other access holes, keep window and door screens in good repair, and keep areas around the building foundation free of clutter.
In the garage, keep items such as gardening clothes and gloves in bags closed with zipper locks or twist ties. Store seasonal items such as winter clothes or Christmas decorations in boxes that you can tape shut and can place off the floor and away from walls in order to exclude spiders. When cleaning up clutter in garages and other storage areas, be sure to wear gloves to avoid accidental bites.
Areas of concern include children’s pedal-powered toy vehicles made of molded plastic that have open spaces facing downward where spiders can crawl in. Picnic tables and other large pieces of furniture where you place your fingers underneath to lift also can be a source of exposure.
Be careful that you don’t carry spiders indoors on items such as plants, firewood, and boxes. Stack woodpiles away from your house, and never pick up pieces of wood unless you are wearing gloves.
If you are troubled by a spider infestation, our trained pest management professionals will make a free home inspection, identify the type of spider, determine the best method for safely eliminating them from your property, and follow up with regular de-webbing or other treatment to prevent their return. Some of the information in this article was obtained from the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
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