Poisonous Spiders In North Carolina
Only two poisonous spiders are found in North Carolina: the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Both are found across most of the state. A bite from a black widow spider can cause severe neurological problems; a bite from the brown recluse spider can cause necrosis of the tissue surrounding the bite site. The bite of either spider can kill you in extreme cases. Young children are the most at risk from spider bites.
1. The Black Widow Spider
The black widow spider is black with a distinctive red hourglass shape on its abdomen, as you can see in the picture above. The spiders usually hang upside down in their webs, so you can often see the red hourglass. The female spider hangs her egg sac high up in her web, and she will attack anything that tries to take it or interfere with it. So do not touch the web or egg sac of a black widow spider. This spider can strike quickly, and the bite is painful and in rare cases can kill people. The very young and people already sick with other illnesses are at most risk.
Black Widow in Motion, Filmed in North Carolina
2. Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse spider can be easily identified from the violin shape on its head that points to its back. Also it has six eyes, uncommon for a spider. The photo above shows how the brown recluse is only a little bigger than a penny; it is almost never larger than a U.S. quarter.
Keep in mind that in some parts of North Carolina the brown recluse spider is known as the fiddle-back spider.
Although both types of spiders can be found indoors, the brown recluse spider is more often found inside North Carolina homes than the black widow. Brown recluse spiders like to hide in dry cool places, and if you live in North Carolina and have cardboard boxes under your bed or in a closet or attic, you may very well have brown recluse spiders living right there in the house with you.
Brown Recluse Spiders Love Cardboard Boxes
Brown recluses seem to be especially attracted to cardboard, and they are often found hiding in cardboard boxes or under their flaps. Use care when going through items that have been stored in cardboard boxes for a while. If you know you live where brown recluse spiders are, the best thing to do is not store items in boxes. Keep your house very clean with nothing stored under beds or on closet floors and you should be able to keep your house spider-free.
If you must store items in cardboard boxes, then purchase pennyroyal (at a health food store, for example) and sprinkle it in your cardboard boxes. It will keep all kinds of spiders including brown recluses from making a home in your boxes.
What a Brown Recluse Spider Looks Like
Brown Recluse Spider Bites In These PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Brown recluse spiders are timid and do not often bite people, unless they are pressed or trapped against someone's skin. Often there are no effects from the bite but a little redness. But in some cases, necrosis of the tissue around the bite site can occur, and people can even end up losing a finger, hand, or limb from the bite of a brown recluse.
The Way You Keep Your Yard Can Keep Spiders Away
Keep bushes and trees cut back away from your house; bushes or trees touching your house will help spiders find a way into your house. Keep your gutters clean. Seal up any cracks or holes.
Check your house's screens at least a couple of times a year and make sure that the screens fit tightly and that the screens themselves have no holes. Be sure that screen doors or storm doors fit tightly. If you see a cobweb on your house, wash it off with your hose pipe. Keep the floors of outbuildings clean, and consider having outbuildings and garages treated for spiders by a pest control company just before the start of cold weather.
In the late fall, when you know cold weather is coming, the spiders know too, and they will be trying to find a way into your home. Use a pressure washer and spray down the outside of your home with a strong insecticide soap. Don't forget to spray out the window wells of basement windows as this is a favorite place that spiders like to live.
Black widow spiders cannot stand being sprayed with a strong soap solution. It will get rid of them every time. A strong soapy solution will also get rid of brown recluse spiders. If you keep making spiders feel unwelcome they will go away and won't return.
If you see brown recluse spiders or black widow spiders inside your house, even in the attic or in an attached garage, you should call in a professional exterminator. It's very important that you don't allow the spiders to live and multiply inside your house.
Lime Will Keep Spiders Away From Your Woodpile
If you think spiders are making a home in your woodpile, wear long sleeves and gloves when handling firewood.
If you suspect that black widow spiders or brown recluse spiders are living in the woodpile, wash the pile down with a good insecticide soap to get rid of the spider problem.
When you make a new woodpile, dust the ground where your woodpile will be with lime and then lay two 4" X 4"'s down to stack your wood on. Toss a bit of lime in among your stored wood and it will keep the spiders from moving in. Don't make your firewood pile in the same location every year. Change locations often and you'll have fewer spiders.
You will find that if you do all these things that your home will have far fewer spiders. They will move on and find a more hospitable place to live, hopefully somewhere down the street.
1. Spiders like to hide in cardboard boxes in closets or under beds. If the boxes have been stored a while, use gloves when going through the box or boxes.
2. Don't reach into dark areas without wearing gloves. If you can't see your fingertips, wear gloves.
3. If you think there could be brown recluse spiders in your house, always shake out shoes or boots that have not been worn in a while before you put them on. The same thing goes for coats and sweaters that have been stored all summer, or canvas tarps or life jackets that have been stored all winter. Shake all these items out very well before you use them, because people will sometimes put on a coat or sweater that's been stored all summer and get a spider bite.
4. If you think you've been bitten by a brown recluse spider or a black widow spider, apply ice or a cold pack to the bite and seek medical attention at once. If you can catch the spider in a jar with a lid, do so. Take it with you to the doctor or emergency room. Even if you killed it, put it in something and take it with you.
5. Some people can have an allergic reaction to nonpoisonous spider or insect bites. If a person gets a bite and it becomes red and swollen, or they have difficulty breathing, take that person to a doctor or an emergency room at once. The elderly, children, and people who are already sick with some other illness are at the most risk from a spider bite.
6. Call your Poison Control Center if you think someone has been bitten by a poisonous spider or is having an allergic reaction to a spider bite. The number for the Poison Control Center in North Carolina and many other places is 1-800-222-1222.
Carolina Writing Spiders Are Harmless
Writing spiders, or golden orb weaver spiders, are found all over North Carolina, but these spiders are not harmful to you and they will eat large amounts of bugs each year. I have a large number of these spiders that live in my yard and garden each year and I don't allow anyone to harm them. Charlotte, in the children's story Charlotte's Web, was a writing spider.
If you live in an area where brown recluse spiders and black widow spiders live, you should sit down with photos of the spiders and educate your children on what the poisonous spiders look like. Tell them to never approach these spiders and to let you know if they see one of them in your home or yard. In North Carolina these are the only two poisonous spiders that you have to worry about.
Did you know that worldwide there are 40,000 species of spiders and they are all carnivorous? Spiders are beneficial insects and they should be left alone, if they are in your yard or garden, as long as they are not poisonous. In the United States there are only four spiders that are poisonous: the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider, and the yellow sac spider. In North Carolina we have only the first two. The average spider consumes about 100 bugs a year and you are never more than about 12 feet away from a spider. Most spiders are harmless. The only thing that spiders do is hunt for food and make more spiders.
Spiders kill more bugs than birds do and the total weight of bugs that spiders consume in one day will be more than the weight of all the humans on earth. Can you even imagine that? Spiders only live for about a year. Their hairy legs contain their organs for hearing, touch, and smell. All spiders inject a chemical solution that liquefies the inside of their prey, and then they suck up the goodies.
Fun Spider Facts
1. Well this one may not be too fun: An average person, during their lifetime, will eat seven to ten spiders while they are sleeping.
2. One spider egg has as much DNA as is contained in four humans. And that is in just one spider egg.
3. There actually exists an extremely rare spider in the eastern parts of Africa that is snow white in color but spins black webs.
4. No matter where you are living, you are never more than 7-10 feet from a spider.
5. Always wash new or used clothing when you purchase it. This is the way that most spiders find their way into your house.