Category Archives: Spiders

National Pest Management Month: Four Common Pests to Watch Out For

We all know the feeling of the cringe-worthy moment when we hear little scurries across the floorboards, or see teeny droppings in our cupboards and run to call for the first available pest control service appointment.

For more than 30 years, the National Pest Management Association has celebrated the month of April as ‘National Pest Management Month’ to recognize pest management professionals for their efforts in protecting individuals’ health and property from those cringe-worthy moments. With spring season upon us, now is a good time to brush up on four common household nuisances and how to prevent or identify an infestation.

So the next time you see a creepy crawler and wonder what it is, keep in mind these four common pests:

Ants: Ranging from reddish browns to blacks and even yellow, ants are common throughout the year. No matter the climate, ants have an arduous way about them, making their homes in the tiniest of places. As the number one nuisance in the U.S., ants are capable of infesting office buildings, homes and restaurants. Ants are often attracted by sweets and proteins, so keep spills, pet food and other foods cleaned up and/or containers tightly sealed.

Termites: Termites live in colonies that can grow to large numbers. Their usual methods of infesting a home can include entering through cracks in concrete floors from underground, a space as small as 1/64th of an inch or larger. Termites can also be carried in through infested wood such as old furniture, firewood or building materials. Both Subterranean and Drywood termite colonies even have members equipped with wings, being able to fly into a home and begin a new colony. Make sure to have your home thoroughly inspected yearly by a professional to spot termites and/or damage before it’s too late.

Spiders: Varying greatly in size, spiders are often the sign of a more serious insect infestation. As carnivorous hunters, spiders feast on insects such as ants and crickets and hide in cracks and crevices under well-protected areas inside or outside the home. Being popular all year round, the best way to reduce the risk of spider invasions is to remove clutter, repair windows and screens and dust regularly.

Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are known to be travelers, packing away in your suitcase until the most opportune moment to make themselves cozy in your home. Living up to one and a half years, bed bugs produce between one and eight eggs daily. Since you can’t feel the bite of a bed bug, homeowners should be aware of inflamed bites with clusters or rows. Inspect your surroundings carefully when traveling to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you.

Woman faces painful recovery from spider bite

A woman in Lafayette, Ind. is temporarily in a wheelchair as she recovers from a brown recluse spider bite.

Two weeks ago, an Indiana woman was bitten by the venomous spider on the leg while she was asleep, according to Lafayette-area CBS affiliate WLFI-TV. She assumed it was a normal bug bite until the injury started swelling and oozing pus. After visiting to her doctor, the wound was popped and she was given antibiotics.

Within 24 hours, however, the wound started growing once more. The woman went to the hospital, where she was brought into surgery immediately.

According to WLFI, brown recluse venom eats away at cells and  the victim had to have dead tissue removed. One doctor told the news source that brown recluse bites can be so severe they require amputation. The woman who received the bite told the station she is grateful to have avoided those measures, and hopes to be able to walk without pain soon.

Brown recluses are one the U.S.'s most deadly common spiders. As their name implies, they live a hermit-like life style in sheltered places like woodpiles, crevices and cracks. These spiders can be recognized by their brown, bulbous body and the violin-shaped marking on their backs. If a brown recluse is spotted or suspected, it's important to hire a pest control professional to avoid being bitten, as a bite can result in serious medical emergencies.

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.

Prevent a spider infestation indoors

Some homeowners find spiders to be an annoying, but inevitable, part of owning a house. But this definitely doesn't have to be the case – a spider infestation can be prevented in many instances. While a severe, venomous spider problem may require the assistance of pest control professionals, there are some tactics residents can use to eliminate a spider invasion themselves if their preventative tactics fail to keep the eight-legged creatures at bay.

Drawn indoors
Spiders don't end up in homes accidentally. They are often seeking the same things residents look for – food, water and shelter. A mild winter earlier this year increased the pest population, and a hot, dry summer has led many spiders to head into houses to find resources.

The pests have interesting ways of finding paths into homes. While many pests, including some spiders, can easily enter a residence through a ripped screen, open door or hole, spiders also use their unique senses to find other ways to enter. Amy Grandpre, the Yellowstone County urban horticulture assistant, told Wyoming NBC affiliate KULR that some spiders use their infrared vision to spot heat leaks around homes to gain entry.

Prevention
The first step in preventing all pests? Sealing up holes and cracks around your home. Pay special attention to the areas around windows and doors, where spiders may spot heat leaks and try to enter. Even tiny cracks should be sealed, since small pests can get through tight spaces.

Because spiders often find shelter in cluttered areas, take the necessary steps to ensure your yard is free from debris and potential hiding places. Piles of wood, compost bins, cluttered sheds and piles of garden equipment can be homes to spiders who may try to make their way inside once the weather becomes too chilly.

Simple pest control
If you find a few spiders indoors, there's no need to panic. Some easy steps can ensure spider populations don't multiply and take over your house. If you spot a spider inside, carefully remove it. Be sure not to touch the pest with unprotected skin, because a venomous spider bite can be dangerous. Keep the home clean, and regularly sweep up or vacuum spiderwebs or cobwebs found in the home.

If an invasion appears too significant to manage on your own, it's important to contact insect control professionals. Exterminators can assist in eliminating the problem, especially if the infestation appears to consist of venomous arachnids, such as black widows or brown recluse spiders.

Scorpions, spiders heading into homes

Texas homeowners are dealing with some unpleasant guests, as they feel the effects of a blistering, dry summer.

The number of scorpions and spiders has drastically increased in Texas this summer. Because they are cold-blooded creatures, they develop quickly in hot, arid conditions. That makes the state's weather this summer the perfect environment for the pests to breed rapidly.

In order to cool off from the extreme heat, many of them are making their way into local homes, frightening residents.

Scorpions often like to hide in cluttered areas or bushes. One Texan told east Texas-area NBC affiliate KTEK that he found a severe infestation of scorpions in a pile of boxes and in his garbage can. He needed to seek medical treatment after being stung by one of the pests.

Scorpions are nocturnal, and like to hide in small spaces. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that residents shake out clothing and shoes before putting them on to reduce the risk of a potentially dangerous scorpion sting. If stung, victims should remain calm and seek medical attention to ensure the venom will not cause a deadly reaction.

Besides scorpions, the heat is also driving more dangerous brown recluse spiders indoors. The brown recluse can have a deadly bite, but it is often mistaken for a common house spider, CNN reported.

These small pests are about the size of a quarter and have a dark spot on their otherwise tan bodies. They can be difficult to spot in homes, as they like to hide. Like scorpions, these spiders like to take shelter in cluttered areas, boxes, closets and dark corners.

Brown recluse spider bites initially do not cause any pain. Typically, within several hours the bite swells, becomes red and is extremely sensitive. Most bites heal on their own from this point, but in some instances, the bite can be much more dangerous.

In some victims, the venom will break down skin cells near the site of the bite. This eventually progresses into a lesion that requires immediate attention from a medical professional, according to CNN. Death from a brown recluse spider bite is rare, but can occur in anyone allergic to the spider's venom. Jim Fredericks, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association, told CNN it's best to get a brown recluse bite checked out to make sure an allergic reaction will not occur.

Since brown recluse spiders are small, it can be difficult to implement pest control measures to keep them out of a home. Making sure screens are intact and eliminating clutter are some ways of preventing a spider or scorpion invasion.

A local pest control expert told KTEK that pest problems can also be avoided by making sure the spiders don't have easy access to a home. Therefore, firewood should be stored away from the house, and bushes and shrubs should not be too close to windows.

A spider or scorpion infestation can be dangerous and calls for help from professional exterminators who can evaluate the situation and recommend the best form of treatment.