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Archive for the ‘Spiders’ Category

Are Numerous Spiders Really Hidden Within Close Proximity Of Humans At All Times And In All Locations?

It is often said that at least one spider is always within 3 feet of each individual human at all times and in virtually all locations. This claim has been circulating for more than two decades, and it originates from a 1995 article written by the arachnologist Norman Platnick. The original statement goes like this: “Wherever you sit as you read these lines, a spider is probably no more than a few yards away.” In less than a year following the publication of this popular article, a newspaper article referenced Platnick’s claim by mistakenly stating that spiders are always three feet away, rather than a few yards away as Platnick actually claimed. This misquote stuck, and it has been repeated and reprinted countless times since.

Even Platinick’s claim that spiders are always a few yards away is quite misleading, if not downright false. In reality, the relative proximity of spiders varies tremendously depending on location. For example, if you stand on residential lawn grass, you can expect multiple smaller sized spiders to be below your feet, and several others within 3 cm away from all sides of your shoes. However, if you are standing in the middle of a paved grocery store parking lot, the nearest spider may be as far as 50 or 100 meters away.

While research has demonstrated that all residential homes contain numerous insect and arachnid specimens of many different species, no study has ever explored the distance between humans and spiders within homes. However, spiders and all other arthropods that are commonly found within homes remain within harborages that are located out of human sight. These harborages can be found within wall voids, crawl spaces, attics, ceiling voids, and other dark and well concealed spaces.

It is also important to note that homes are filled with microscopic arachnids known as dust mites, and demodex mites. Demodex mites inhabit human pores at all times where they feed on oils known as “sebum.” Demodex mites are aptly known as “face mites,” and they are most abundant at the base of hair follicles. For the most part, face mites are harmless as long as one practices good hygiene, but they have been known to cause skin rashes. Dust mites, on the other hand, serve as indoor allergens that contribute to the development of asthma.

Have you ever ventured into your crawl space to find a variety of spider species?


How Frequently Do People Sustain Medically Harmful And Deadly Brown Recluse Spider Bites

The brown recluse spider has become notorious for  inflicting bites to humans that sometimes cause tissue necrosis, dangerous allergic reactions, and/or systemic symptoms like fever, chills, vomiting and diarrhea. The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is the most widespread and commonly encountered recluse spider species in the US, and they are abundant throughout Louisiana. The US is home to 13 recluse spider species, two of which are non-native species that were inadvertently transported into the country. One of these non-native species, the Mediterranean recluse, has become established in New Orleans and other urban areas in southern Louisiana.

Several laboratory studies on recluse spider venom, and multiple case studies on recluse spider bite victims have found that all 13 recluse spiders in the country are capable of inflicting medically significant bites that produce the same symptoms. The brown recluse is responsible for inflicting the vast majority of reported recluse bites, as the other species, with the exception of the Mediterranean recluse, prefer to dwell in undisturbed areas of the natural environment where they are very rarely encountered by humans. While the Mediterranean recluse is not widespread, it is similar to the brown recluse in that it is an urban-dwelling species that benefits from living in close association with humans. Mediterranean recluse infestations are becoming more common, as a recent nationwide survey of pest management professionals revealed that the Mediterrranean recluse was the most commonly controlled spider pest within homes during the 2016 year.

Brown recluse spiders and the danger they pose to humans started to become well known to the public during the 1950s when the medical community took note of several fatal brown recluse envenomation incidents. Between 1983 and 2009, 42,544 brown recluse spider bites were reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Of these thousands of brown recluse bite victims, only seven died as a result of envenomation. Brown recluse spiders are among the top five most commonly controlled indoor spider species in the US, and their presence within a home may go unnoticed for a time due to their habit of hiding beneath clutter in storage rooms, attics, garages, and basements. Infestations tend to grow more extensive over time, and eventually, their indoor population increases to the point where residents begin to spot the spiders in open living areas during the day. Although brown recluse spiders very rarely inflict deadly bites, residents should not attempt to eliminate the spiders from homes themselves, as most bites occur indoors. Most infestations require professional pest control intervention.

Have you ever found brown recluse spiders in your home?

How Often Do Black Widow Spiders Bite Humans, And How Can These Spiders Be Controlled?

It is often said that brown recluses and black widows are the only two spider species that can be dangerous to humans in the United States. This claim is misleading for a few reasons. While it is true that brown recluses and black widows are responsible for the majority of medically significant spider envenomation cases in the US, they are not the only potentially dangerous spider species commonly found in homes. For example, it has been well documented that both hobo spiders and yellow sac spiders inflict medically harmful bites to humans on occasion, and unlike brown recluses and black widows, these two spider species are unusually aggressive toward humans. Also, three spider species in the US are accurately referred to as “black widows,” and 13 recluse spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, all of which are known for inflicting bites that occasionally result in serious medical conditions. The potentially dangerous spider species that can be found in Louisiana include brown recluse spiders, yellow sac spiders, southern black widows, and brown widows.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, around 2,200 black widow bites are reported annually in the US, but a fatality resulting from a black widow bite has not been documented in the country since 1983. The southern black widow is abundant in Louisiana, and its close relative, the brown widow, is abundant in New Orleans, but it’s expanding its non-native habitat into the rest of the state. Unfortunately, black widows are found within homes often, occasionally in large numbers, and they build tattered webs just like common house spiders. Black widows are usually found hiding beneath objects in cluttered rooms, and they are especially common in garages, barns and sheds. While black widows are shy around humans, females will readily bite if they become disturbed within their webs, particularly when eggs are present in webs. Keeping indoor environments free of clutter, maintaining well groomed yard landscapes, and sealing entry points on the exterior walls of homes are the best ways to prevent black widows from entering homes. In some cases it is necessary to apply insecticides judiciously to corners, beneath furniture, across doorways and other areas where black widows will likely make contact. Pyrethroid insecticides are available to consumers for spider control, but more effective formulations require a pest control license to handle.

Have you ever encountered a black widow spider indoors?

Entomologists State That Brown Recluse Spiders Often Establish Extensive Populations Within Homes, And Eliminating Infestations Is Not Easy

Today, thirteen recluse spider species can be found in a number of states located in the southern and midwestern United States. Obviously, the brown recluse species is the most well known recluse species in the country, as they are responsible for the greatest amount of medically significant envenomation cases, and they are easily the most widespread of all recluse spider species in North America. When compared to the other 12 recluse species in the US, the brown recluse is the only species that is known for regularly establishing potentially extensive infestations within homes and buildings.

The brown recluse and the non-native Mediterranean recluse are the only two recluse spider species that have been documented in Louisiana. The brown recluse is commonly encountered within and around homes in the northern half of Louisiana, specifically, from Alexandria northward. While the brown recluse is almost never encountered in southern Louisiana, the European-native Mediterranean recluse spider species has been documented numerous times within and around structures in urban areas throughout the state, but most notably in the south in and around New Orleans.

Brown recluse spiders emerge from their winter harborages during the spring season, and they become active indoors throughout the summer before returning to their overwintering sites during October. While brown recluse spiders overwinter in dark and dry locations in the natural environment, such as beneath tree bark and within wood piles, they have also learned to exploit human dwellings where they can remain active throughout the winter season. In homes and buildings, brown recluse spiders establish harborages within dark and dry enclosed areas, such as storage closets, attic spaces, cupboards, behind hanging picture frames, interior spaces of furniture, and utility boxes.

Once the daylight hours become shorter during the fall, brown recluse species retreat into cracks and crevices on walls. When it comes to eradicating brown recluse spiders that nestle within narrow wall crevices, insecticide dust applications are ideal, as dusts adhere more readily and for a longer period of time to surfaces than chemical insecticides. Obviously, insecticide dusts are also safer than chemical insecticides for treating utility boxes, wall outlets and other areas where electronic equipment is located.

Have you ever encountered a congregation of brown recluse spiders within a dark concealed area within your home?


How To Recognize Black Widow Webs And Egg Sacs Within Structures, And What Residents Need To Know About Black Widow Spiderlings

When it comes to dangerous spiders in the United States, black widows have long been the most notorious species. Reports describing dangerous, and even fatal, black widow bites started during the late 19th century when scientific documentation and record keeping was becoming more commonplace. Today, the black widow bite remains the most common cause of medically significant spider bite symptoms in the country, and these intimidating arachnids can be found in most areas in the US. Black widows belongs to the Latrodectus spider genus, which is comprised of more than two dozen urban-dwelling and highly venomous spider species worldwide.

Five Latrodectus species can be found in the US, two of which are documented in Louisiana where they are not infrequently reported as pests within homes and other structures. One of these species, commonly known as the brown widow, has recently been introduced into Louisiana. This alien spider species has been proliferating and spreading rapidly throughout the state, and their bites have been documented as causing serious medical symptoms. However, Latrodectus mactans, or the southern black widow, is responsible for the majority of medically significant spider envenomations in the country, and surprisingly, freshly hatched baby spiderlings of this species are not necessarily harmless either.

Black widows are often found in homes, but they are most frequently encountered in low-traffic indoor areas, such as garages, storage closets, sheds, barns, crawl spaces, cellars, basements and sometimes attic spaces. The southern black widow’s presence within a home can be recognized by the presence of tattered webs that usually measure 35 cm in both length and width, but they can be much larger. These webs are almost always located at elevated positions between 8 and 12 feet from the floor in dark corners and around ceiling rafters.

Southern black widow eggs sacs can be recognized for their grey and spherical appearance, and are generally around 9.5 mm in diameter with a conspicuous notch on the top. Each egg sac contains an average of 255 cream or yellow-colored eggs, and each female is usually in possession of 10 egg sacs. These eggs sacs can be constructed by females in as little as an hour within a home, and the spiderlings that hatch are particularly poisonous. However, due to their lack of developed mouthparts, spiderlings are only dangerous when ingested, but pets may die after consuming a spiderling.

Have you ever encountered an indoor spider egg sac? If so, did you learn which species the egg sac belonged to?

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