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Archive for the ‘Spiders’ Category

Brown Recluse Spiders Prefer To Live Indoors

Around 40,000 spider species have been documented worldwide, and a small minority of these species are frequently encountered within homes and buildings. Some spiders that prefer to live outdoors often appear within structures due to accidentally wandering indoors or to pursue insect prey within homes and buildings. These occasional spider invaders include grass spiders, wolf spiders, fishing spiders, and even tarantulas. Other spiders that are frequently found indoors are synanthropic pests that have lost their ability to survive in the natural environment. The word “synanthropy” refers to organisms that benefit from living in close association with humans, and most synanthropic spiders spend their entire lives eating and reproducing within structures. Synanthropic spiders are often referred to as “house spiders,” and they include American house spiders, yellow sac spiders, cellar spiders, southern house spiders, and many cobweb weaving spiders. Unfortunately, the most dangerous spider species in the United States, the brown recluse spider, maintains a synanthropic habitat where they pose a medical threat.

Brown recluse spiders establish indoor harborages in dark spaces like closets, shoes, storage rooms, beneath clutter, attics, in piles of clothing, and beneath furniture. It is not uncommon for homeowners to find large numbers of brown recluse spiders indoors, and most recluse bites that are reported to medical facilities and poison control centers occur on residential properties. Amazingly, a brown recluse spider infestation consisting of more than 2,000 specimens was found within a single-family home back in 2001. Due to their familiarity with manmade structures, massive numbers of brown recluse spiders are able to inhabit homes without drawing attention from residents. These spiders only emerge in open living areas at night to seek out food sources, and they are known for behaving boldly around sleeping humans during this time. For example, doctors recently pulled a brown recluse spider from a woman’s ear. The spider likely crawled into her ear while she was sleeping in her infested home. Brown recluse spiders are not aggressive toward humans and most bites occur when specimens become trapped in clothing or are inadvertently pressed by humans. About 10 percent of all recluse bites result in skin lesions that often develop into necrotic infections that require medical attention.

Have you ever encountered a brown recluse spider indoors?

3 To 5 Inch Huntsman Spiders Easily Slip Through Narrow Wall Cracks In Order To Invade Homes During The Fall Season

Huntsman spiders are well known for being some of the largest sized spiders in the world. Huntsman spiders belong to the Sparassidae family of spiders, which contains more than 1,300 documented species spread across five continents. Huntsman spiders are well known as abnormally large arachnids in Australia, but the spiders likely originated from Asia, and several species have been found in the Americas and Europe. When people think about exotic and massively large spiders in Australia, the giant huntsman spider species comes to many people’s mind. Not long ago, a group of Australians captured footage of a giant huntsman spider violently subduing a frantic opossum. This footage quickly went viral, and now many Americans regret ever having learned about the existence of this otherworldly creature.

Luckily, the giant huntsman spider cannot be found in the US, but unfortunately, another massive huntsman spider species can be found in several southern US states. This species is commonly known as the “pantropical huntsman spider,” and these spiders can be found in each of the southeast Gulf Coast states and southern California. Pantropical huntsman spiders have leg spans ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length, and they are often encountered within homes in Louisiana throughout the year, but especially during the fall. In addition to being intimidating to look at, huntsman spiders are known for inflicting very painful bites with their oversized fangs. Although several serious medical conditions have resulted from pantropical huntsman spider bites, the species is considered largely harmless by medical professionals.

Huntsman spiders, as their name suggests, hunt for their insect prey on foot rather than relying on webs to trap flying insect meals. Similar to wolf spiders, huntsman spiders are almost always moving in order to locate fresh prey, and their long legs make these spiders among the fastest arthropods ever documented. Since huntsman spiders are always on the move in search of prey, they often find their way into homes inadvertently. However, huntsman spiders are unusually well-adapted to surviving within human dwellings, and they invade homes in Louisiana during the fall season in order to avoid the coming winter cold. These spiders cannot tolerate the cold climate well, as even the relatively mild winter climate in Louisiana is too cold to allow for the survival of pantropical huntsman spiders. Despite their large size, huntsman spiders have flat bodies that can squeeze through small wall cracks on a house’s exterior in order to gain access indoors.

Have you ever encountered a huntsman spider?

Everything Louisiana Residents Should Know About The Most Commonly Encountered Spider Pests Within Homes

Just like insects, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans, arachnids belong to the phylum Arthropoda, which is the largest phylum in the animal kingdom. The most well known arachnid groups include spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, opiliones, harvestman, and solifuges, the last of which is made up of numerous species that are commonly known as wind scorpions, sun spiders, and camel spiders. More than 45,000 spider species have been documented worldwide, which makes spiders the largest order of arachnids, and the seventh largest order of organisms on the planet. The vast majority of documented spider species produce venom, though only a small minority of spider species possess fangs large and durable enough to penetrate human skin.

While all spider species produce silk, not all spider species use their silk to construct webs for catching insect prey. Some spiders capture prey by using their silk to build snares, while other species use their silk to build handy draglines, protected shelters, and/or nurseries for transporting offspring. Amazingly, the spiderlings of many species use their silk to create kite-like structures that enable them to disperse to faraway areas by riding wind currents, a process known as “ballooning.” The most commonly encountered indoor spiders like cellar spiders and house spiders are notorious for their habit of building numerous cobwebs that often become a nuisance within homes and buildings.

While many entomologists and pest control professionals frequently tell residents that spiders are beneficial within and around homes due to their habit of preying on insect pests, many people cannot tolerate the thought of sharing their home with spiders, especially large and scary looking species. However, Louisiana is home to multiple spider species that public health professionals consider to be medical hazards that require urgent pest control attention when encountered indoors. Several large and hairy spider species frequently appear within Louisiana homes including Carolina wolf spiders, dark fishing spiders, and Parson spiders, but they are not considered medically significant. The four spider species that pose a genuine medical threat to residents within Louisiana homes include southern black widows (Latrodectus mactans), northern black widows (L. variolus), brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa), and non-native Mediterrranean recluse spiders (L. rufescens). Other potentially dangerous spider species in the state include brown widow spiders (L. geometricus), and possibly, yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium inclusum and Cheiracanthium mildei).

Have you ever sustained a spider bite in your home?

The Exotic Cribellate Spider Is One Of The Most Commonly Encountered Spider Species Within Louisiana Homes, And They Are Capable Of Dealing Out Painful, Yet Harmless Bites

Metaltella simoni, or the “cribellate spider,” as the species is more commonly known, is native to Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay, but the species was discovered in the US for the first time back in 1944 when specimens were recovered from Harahan, Louisiana. Not long afterward, large cribellate spider populations were found in east Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and St. Tammany Parishes. This species has been documented as dwelling in natural undisturbed environments, but most records describe the cribellate spider’s propensity to live alongside humans within homes and buildings. Today, these spiders are very common indoor pests in Louisiana, and while they are not considered medically significant, their intimidating appearance often gives homeowners a scare.

The cribellate spider can be recognized for its dark exterior and its .25 to .37 inch long body, which does not include their long legs. Adult males are slightly smaller than females, and they possess legs that are yellowish-orange in color, while adult females have legs that are dark brown in color. Females and offspring spin webs that are somewhat tattered and are similar in appearance to the webs constructed by southern house spiders, only smaller. Females and offspring establish harborages beneath logs, behind tree bark, beneath wood piles, and in boxes, dark corners, storage rooms, and beneath objects that are attached to the female’s silk webbing. Males are almost always wandering around in search of prey, and they will readily enter homes to pursue prey or to secure refuge from harsh climatic conditions.

While these synanthropic spiders are known for appearing in Louisiana homes all year round, researchers are mostly unfamiliar with the cribellate spider’s life history and biology. However, it is known that adults of this species possess oversized chelicerae and fangs, which makes them competent predators, as well as pests that can inflict painful bites on human skin when properly motivated. The cribellate spider’s long and dark legs make specimens easy to spot on indoor walls and ceilings, and this species is commonly mistaken for the similar looking brown recluse spider species.

Have you ever sustained a spider bite in your home?

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?

 

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