How to tell if your spider infestation is dangerous

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), there are approximately 3,000 spider species in North America. Especially during the colder seasons, these critters may seek shelter in homes. While "kill it!" is the first response many people have to spiders, only a handful of commonly spotted species are actually harmful. It's important to be able to recognize the venomous spiders to avoid danger and ensure proper pest control measures are taken. Venomous spiders can be identified by a homeowner, but an exterminator should be contacted if residents are unsure if their infestation poses a threat.

The black widow
The bold red mark on the abdomen of its otherwise jet black body makes this spider easy to spot. The NPMA recommends residents keep their distance from any large, black bulbous spider. Black widows can be found anywhere a stable source of heat can be found, such as inside a home. They feast on flies and other bugs and live in dark places, like closets or basements. Just a small amount of black widow venom is extremely poisonous and can be fatal, making it essential to get rid of these infestations immediately.

The brown recluse
While this spider is a family member of the black widow, the brown recluse isn't as easy to identify. These spiders are dull-colored and violin shaped, much like several other species. One feature that sets them apart is the fact that they have six eyes, rather than the eight typically seen on spiders. Brown recluses are most common in the Midwest and Southeast, and prefer warm, dry and dark environments like woodpiles and closets.The spider bites when frightened, and a bite can take several weeks to heal and cause severe allergic reactions, according to the NPMA.

The hobo spider
These spiders live in the Pacific Northwest, and have hairy legs and yellow markings on their abdomens. Hobo spiders build webs in holes and cracks and can be found in window wells, behind furniture and other dark hiding places. Unlike bites from black widows and brown recluses, hobo spider bites can go unnoticed at first, but then swell into painful slow-healing wounds. This makes it important to find these pests and have them eliminated by a professional as quickly as possible.

Some bugs may stink up the holiday season

Winter is knocking on the door, and while you're preparing for cold weather and the holiday season, dealing with bugs – especially stink bugs – probably isn't on your to-do list.

As temperatures drop, the unwelcome guests may try to enter your home, according to Fox News Oregon. Many bugs try to seek shelter from wet weather and infestations can become a problem for some homeowners. Stink bugs are cleverly named after the unpleasant odor they emit when scared, disturbed or crushed.

Homeowners in Oregon are reporting noticing the bug and its smell, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture told Fox News that the stink bug population is spreading throughout the state.

The Pacific Northwest isn't the only area reporting a stink bug presence. According to Lexington, Kentucky's The Lane Report, University of Kentucky entomologists are receiving calls from homeowners about the bug. The news source revealed that 13 state counties have reported a stink bug presence thus far.

The pests aren't only hitting a few areas of the country. USA Today reported that stink bug problems were recorded in 38 states in early October. The critters migrate indoors in the fall and hibernate throughout the winter, which makes cozy homes a favorable place for them to snooze as outdoor temperatures drop. While they can be annoying, stink bugs are not harmful. However, a large population can become a problem and it's best to hire a pest control professional to deal with the smelly bug.

Bed bugs aren’t just bed bugs

While many often associate bed bug dwelling habits with hotels, motels, hostels and inns, there's a reason they can show up in places like movie theaters, dressings rooms and schools, according to the University of Florida News.

Pests can live with minimal food
Bed bugs can not only survive, but thrive on much less human blood than previously believed necessary, according to a University of Florida study, which also found that in just 11 weeks, a pair of the blood-sucking parasites can spawn a large enough population to cause harmful blood loss to a baby. Populations only need four more weeks to significantly affect adults. According to the source, it takes only 3,500 feeding bed bugs to harm a baby and 25,000 to cause problems in an adult.

"By harmful, we mean it’s not killing you, but your body would be stressed," said Roberto Pereira, a research associate scientist of entomology to University of Florida News. "And when your body is stressed, all sorts of things can go wrong. Your blood volume would be low, your iron levels might be too low or you might become anemic."

Pereira and his colleagues tested how the bugs thrived depending on the availability of blood sources, and found that populations grew even when they experienced a limited food supply.

“Basically what we found is that they can live on a diet of weekly snacks,” Pereira said.

The researchers also found that uncontrolled, large bed bug populations can grow four times faster than previously thought in just 11 to 15 weeks.

A growing problem
Bed bug population in the U.S.have surged in the past decade, suspected to be caused by international travel, an increased resistance to pesticides and limited public health programs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The growing number of bed bug reports have prompted some federal, state and local government action. According to CBS News San Francisco, the city recently approved legislation that mandates property owners disclose bed bug history. This move comes as a result of many bed bug reports and complaints from residents.

Homeowners dealing with bed bug problems shouldn't try to tackle the issue on their own. According to the University of Florida study, pest control efforts that fail to kill more than 80 percent of a population are likely to be ineffective in ridding an area of bed bugs, making it extremely important for individuals experiencing an infestation to seek professional intervention from an exterminator.