Nah, they're only scary until you're used to them
Do you realize that you may be renting out space in your home that you don't know about and that it isn’t necessarily bad. Most homes have a dozen or more spiders living in it that you, the landlord, aren’t aware of. Do these little spiders pay rent? Of course they do. They have to eat and they will eat all the bugs they can find in your home. They are much more efficient than someone who comes in and sprays toxic pesticides all over the place.
These little tenants will live under furniture, in closets, in corners, in basements, in attics and garages. If you have storage sheds or other buildings, they will rent space in there and pay for their presence by reducing your unwanted bugs. Many of them will live out their entire lives without meeting their landlords. So if you have spiders renting space in your home, there is no reason to evict them. Spiders are our friends.
Of course if you are afraid of spiders, you may want to evict them so you can relax. A lot of people have a fear of spiders, but you can change that if you want. When I first started in the bug business over 40 years ago, I had a morbid fear of spiders. I don’t know if it was “arachnophobia”, but I certainly didn’t want to be around them. I don’t know why I maintained a fear of spiders for so long, but I had to overcome it when I got in pest business.
Arachnophobia comes from the Greek words, "arachne", meaning "spider", and "phobos", meaning "a fear". The fear of spiders may have had its roots in Europe during the Middle Ages. Spiders were considered a source of contamination and any food that came into contact with them was considered poisoned. If they fell into the water it was thought to be undrinkable. Spiders were originally thought to spread the plague (Black Death) by biting people. Fear of the plague clouded people’s perceptions of the spiders and they were blamed for all sorts of illnesses and epidemics simply because they were present.
The fear of spiders has persisted in our society for a long time and it is actually encouraged by the pesticide industry. Many companies want to “control” spiders by spraying your home with pesticides. They are actually preying on your natural fear of spiders.
I am not a psychologist and will not try to tell you how to overcome your fear of spiders if you have such a fear. I will tell you what worked for me. When I got into the bug business in 1972, I didn’t know a cockroach from a caterpillar and I was deathly afraid of spiders. The first time I had to crawl under a house I was paralyzed with fear. I decided then and there if I was going to be successful, I would have to overcome the fear. I started by reading all the literature I could about spiders, I watched them spin their webs and stalk their prey. We didn’t have computers in those days, so it would be easier now to study them. Finally, after several weeks I let one crawl on me. Oddly enough it didn’t bite me and I didn’t have a heart attack. I went under houses and crawled through their webs. It was a bit disconcerting at first, but soon I had no fear of them at all. That is when I decided I needed to know them better. Now I have no problem crawling through hundreds of spider webs under a house and I often pick up black widows and never get bitten.
Although most spiders possess venom glands, most are too small to break the skin with their fangs and have no desire to do so. All spiders will bite in self-defense if they are handled carelessly, such as being squeezed. Most bites occur when people roll over in bed on one and get bitten or when they put on their clothes and a spider inside the clothing bites when it is pressed against the skin. I am not saying all spiders are harmless. Black widows are certainly capable of producing a serious bite and any such bite by this spider should be considered a major medical emergency. The brown recluse is also dangerously venomous, but rarely bites.
If you have any pest questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 505-385-2820. You can also visit my webpage which has a lot of non-toxic pest management blogs on it, at www.askthebugman.com.
If you are not already a member, you can join my Bug Club and get my booklet on how to control all pests without using toxic pesticides. Go to my website to join if you like.