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They’re creepy…   

They’re hairy…   

They make your skin crawl…    

They lurk in the sink and shower waiting for the unsuspecting…     

They’re SPIDERS !!!

Trailing a length of silk these eight legged predators go about the gruesome business of controlling insects by having them for lunch. 

Except for the unsightliness of webs and droppings, spiders are very beneficial and virtually harmless.  By consuming huge numbers of insects spiders provide an invaluable service. 

Chemicals in spider venom have been found that can prevent brain damage from trauma and surgery. 

The silk that spiders weave has been found to be five times stronger than steel, almost as resilient as rubber, and so fine that a single strand reaching around the world would weigh less than a pound.  (this explains why the webs last so long.) 

Spiders are highly adapted to catching their prey.  Many flying insects use sun light to navigate and most of them can see ultra violet light.  To these insects ultra violet (UV) represents clear sky and they are attracted to it    (that’s why bug zappers use UV bulbs). 

Many spiders have caught on to this fact and actually spin webs which reflect ultra violet.  Modern building products such as paint, siding and glass often contain UV reflective materials to protect against solar fading.  As a result homes which reflect large amounts of UV attract a lot of flying insects.  Spiders are then attracted to the abundant food source and proceed to spin their webs. 

Standard out door lights emit large amounts of UV and will also attract insects at night.  Because these lights are usually placed near entrances spiders will often find their way into the dwelling.  Lights which will be on all night should be placed well away from the house and aimed at the area to be lit.  (Indirect lighting) Where this is not possible, switching to low watt or yellow bulbs will provide some relief. 

Many spiders hunt by chasing down small insects.  Removing leaf litter or tall grass eliminates harborage and hunting areas for these ground dwelling spiders. 

Of all the spiders common to Western Washington only the Hobo Spider has been implicated in bites that may cause injury or require medical attention.  This spider is well distributed throughout the state but has not been found in Grays Harbor yet. 

For additional information about Recluse and Hobo spiders there is an extensive website hosted by U.C.Riverside at   http://spiders.ucr.edu.  There is also excellent information available at the Burke Museum of Natural History at  http://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/spidermyth/index.html

 All of these things may not make you feel any better the next time you are trying to brush a web out of your hair but at least its nice to know that spiders have a good side too.

 

Spiders (general)