Get To Know The Spiders In Your Backyard

What has eight legs, can have as many as twelve eyes are likes to hide in corners? 

This guy, that’s who.

But don’t freak out. We’ve compiled a little meet and greet for some of the spiders you should be aware of in your backyard, and (spoiler alert) most are actually not as scary as they seem. 

Allow me to introduce you to...

Black Widow:

The Black Widow is one of the most well known venomous spiders. With its plump black body and menacing red hour glass marking, it’s hard to confuse this spider with any of its eight-legged friends. This well-known coloring is specific to females, while the males are lighter colored with red or pink spots on their backs. Females are also much bigger than males and are typically about 1.5 inches long, while males are only about half that size. These spiders are notorious hermits who only seek companionship during mating season in early spring. This courtship is typically short lived, as the mature females tend to eat the males during mating. It’s no surprise, then, that the males have a much shorter lifespan than the females (up to 3 years for females and 1-2 months for males). This spider isn’t just known for its poor relationship skills, but also for being one of the most poisonous spiders in North America. The venom in a black widow is reportedly 15 times stronger than that of rattlesnake venom. While this sounds scary, these spiders only bite when disturbed, and most bites are not actually considered serious. 

Wolf Spider:

Wolf spiders tend to plague the nightmares of many Idahoans. These spiders can thrive just about anywhere, including deserts, rainforests and fields. Wolf spiders can be a very beneficial garden spider as they have been know to live in wheat fields and eat aphids. However, you won’t find these guys catching their dinner in a web. Instead of using the net catching technique in a web, wolf spiders do just what their name implies: they chase and then pounce onto their prey in much the same way a wolf would. They then either crush their meal into a ball, or inject it with venom to liquify its organs. Bon appetite! A nutritious spider smoothie.  Another trait that sets these spiders apart is their mothering style. Instead of leaving her young in a web, a wolf spider mother spins a sac for her eggs and then attaches the sac to her abdomen. The young spiders then hatch inside the sac. Once these young spiders come out of the sac they then climb up to their mother’s back. In the event that the mother’s fate includes the underside of your shoe, you may want to consider the fact that this spider could have dozens of babies on her back that will flee. Squishing a wolf spider could mean a wave of tiny baby wolf spiders will be headed your way. While this spider is no slouch in the creepy department, she isn't one to fear. Bites from a wolf spider can cause redness and swelling, but no serious health threats have ever been reported. 

Jumping Spider:

The jumping spider is by far the largest family of spiders in the world. With 5,800 species of jumping spiders, these little guys have quite the family tree. Jumping spiders can come in many colors, shapes and sizes, and live almost everywhere. Like the wolf spider, jumping spiders don’t use webs to catch their prey. They use the skill they're most known for to get dinner: jumping. When jumping spiders see their target prey they simply launch themselves up and hop on their meal. They typically eat small insects, but some species even eat plant matter and nectar. Other (more daring)  jumping spiders will actually go after larger predators (turned prey) such as lizards and frogs. Though these spiders jump suddenly, which can be startling, they aren’t looking to catch you for dinner. Typically, jumping spiders just want to run away from humans instead of bite. Even when bitten, there’s nothing to fear. These furry little guys can’t produce enough venom to be harmful to people. If you can get passed their fat, furry bodies and their sudden launches into the air, jumping spiders are incredibly interesting. The jumping spiders are great romantics and will sing and dance to attract their mates. Researchers at the University of Manchester have even trained a spider, named Kim, to jump on command, making him a key tool in learning how to improve jumping motions in robotics. 

Grass Spider:

Often referred to as a “common lawn spider,” these spiders are identified by their sheet-like, funneled webs and unique shape. These spiders catch their prey by building a web tunnel in lawns or other low ground coverage. The web of the grass spider is not sticky, therefore the spider catches its prey by using threads to tangle and prevent the insect from flying. The grass spider then quickly runs to catch its prey. The grass spiders are incredibly fast and have quick, darting movements. These spiders are commonly mistaken for wolf spiders and hobo spiders. However, the spiders can be identified by not only their webs, but by the markings on their abdomen as well. While wolf spiders have a similar head with a dark line extending down the middle, grass spiders have a chevron pattern as well. Wolf spiders do not have this pattern, but rather the line simply comes to a point. Grass spiders are not dangerous to people, as their venom does not have any adverse effect on humans. These timid spiders are also much more likely to run away from you than become aggressive.

Hobo Spider

Hobo spiders are one of the more feared spiders in this region. Often, however, the “sightings” and bites of these spiders are unfounded. Wolf spiders can be mistaken for hobo spiders and are much more prevalent. Funnel web spiders, such as the grass spider, are also commonly mistaken for hobo spiders because they both build funnel-like webs. Hobo spiders tend to keep to themselves and like to build their webs in gardens, planters or near the foundation of a house. If you see a hobo in your home it is most likely a male spider looking for a mate. It is true that these spiders can pack a punch, but usually only bite when accidentally crushed. Unlike most of the spiders on this list, the hobo spider’s venom can cause considerable pain and in, some cases, necrosis (similar to that of brown recluse spiders, which are not native to Idaho). Considerable pain and tissue death are logical reasons to keep your distance from these spiders, but there have been no reported deaths due to hobo spider bites. Hobos are generally more aggressive compared with other spiders, which could be largely due to their poor eyesight. If you were to reach into this spider's space, it could see your hand as a meal and decide to bite. At the same time they are also very protective and in many cases will bite to protect themselves without injecting any venom. If you do see what may be a hobo spider and are concerned, calling your pest professional is a great way to properly identify and, if need be, control the spiders around your home. 

Spiders aren't what the majority of people would consider cute and cuddly, but for the most part, they actually aren't as scary as they seem. Knowing a little about the creatures in your plants, trees and yard can help to combat the fears you may have about the health of your family. This type of knowledge is what aids pest control professionals in protecting your home in a responsible, effective way. 

If you have experienced a spider bite and are having adverse reaction, call your physician immediately and seek medical attention.

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