Is it true that spiders are beneficial to have around the backyard?

If you are nervous around spiders, you might not like to hear it, but spiders are actually very helpful creatures. They are one of the most important biological controls of pests like flies, aphids, caterpillars, moths, and cockroaches. According to Cornell researcher, Linda Rayor, each year spiders eat the (equivalent insect) weight of all the humans on earth. Most of these insects adversely affect humans, so spiders are vital to a healthy ecosystem. In fact, spiders eat more insects than nearly any other creatures on earth including birds, bats, and ants. It is also important to note that spiders do this without harming plants in the process, which is extremely valuable.

How can I encourage spiders in my gardens, but not in my home?

This is the question that so many people struggle with. They are fine with spiders doing their job in the garden, but they don’t want to see them inside their home. While not fool-proof, there are some things that can be done to help this dilemma.

If you have room on your property, keep your vegetable garden away from structures so that creatures can live there without bothering you. Plant a variety of vegetation, which will attract beneficial insects and spiders. In the garden, use less broad spectrum pesticides and more natural methods to take care of problems. You can also leave some leaf litter in the garden and create areas where spiders can stay cool, moist, and sheltered.

As you get closer to the house, try to eliminate spider habitat. Ensure that tree leaves, bushes, shrubs, and flowers do not touch the walls, roof, or foundation. This creates an easy “bridge” that allows spiders and other pests to get into your home. You can also add a border around the foundation using rocks or bark to create separation. Sealing the exterior of your home is key to keeping pests out of the house. Use caulk to seal small cracks and gaps and expandable spray foam for larger holes. Check all screens for holes or tears and replace weatherstripping on doors if necessary to create a tight seal. Spiders are attracted by large populations of insects, so turning off outdoor lights or placing them strategically away from entryways helps to reduce both the insects and the spiders. A residual pesticide can also be used on the exterior of the home if needed.

What about dangerous spiders? Should I control them?

While there are many benefits to having spiders around your yard and garden, there are definitely some species of spiders that need to be controlled for safety reasons. Australia is known for its dangerous spiders, and these are the ones that you do not want around your home and family. If you start seeing these spiders around your property, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to get rid of them.

White-tailed Spiders

  • Females are larger and can be up to 18 mm long with a leg span of 28 mm
  • Slender body that is often dark red or grey with dark orange and brown banded legs
  • Can be identified by the whitish tip at the end of the abdomen
  • Do not make webs, but are hunters that seek out their prey
  • Live in gardens, houses, under bark and rocks
  • Most bites occur when they get into clothing, towels, or bedding
  • Bites can cause intense pain, swelling, itchiness, nausea, vomiting, and headaches

 

White-tailed Spiders

CSIRO [CC BY 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Redback Spiders

  • Females grow up to 10 mm and males are typically 3-4 mm
  • Females have a round black body with a red stripe on the top side of the abdomen and a red or orange hourglass shape on the underside
  • Males have a red or orange streak on the underside
  • Redbacks make messy, untidy webs and will eat insects, other spiders, and small vertebrates
  • Bites may result in severe and persistent pain, sweating in localized areas, nausea, vomiting, and headaches

 

Redback Spider

By Robertwhyteus [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

 

Funnel-web Spiders

  • Native to Australia; the Sydney funnel-web is potentially deadly, but antivenom has drastically reduced deaths
  • A medium to large spider that can grow from 1-5 cm long
  • Glossy body that ranges from blue-black to black or brown in color
  • Create burrows in cool, sheltered areas like under rocks or in logs
  • Use irregular silk trip lines to catch prey

 

Funnel-web Spider

Male funnel-web by CSIRO [CC BY 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Where can I find help with spider control?

If you are in need of Sunshine Coast spider control, contact the helpful professionals at Radar Pest Control today. We specialize in keeping your family safe and pest free.