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June 5, 2023

A Closer Look at Spiders

A Closer Look with Brittany Campbell, Ph.D.


For people suffering from arachnophobia, the mere word “spider” can elicit chills and goose bumps. The fangs, the long, hairy eight legs, the funky eye arrangement and scurrying behavior do spiders no help in the presence of an arachnophobe. However, most spider fear is unwarranted because few can do serious damage with their venom and most spiders are not aggressive.

  1. Spider balloons

Spiders have a behavior called ballooning, where some species use silk strands to float through the air. Often, a spider will crawl up to a high point on a plant or branch and then release a strand of silk into the wind, where the wind will carry off the spider across long distances. This behavior is common for young spiders to move and populate new areas.


  1. Arachnophobia trigger: Sticky webs

Webs are sticky for a reason, to capture prey but are unsightly around homes and annoying to walk into accidentally. Use a vacuum or de-webbing tool to eliminate spiders, their egg sacs, and their webs around structures as an important addition to spider control programs. The removal of spider evidence, like old webbing, can give the client some peace of mind and confidence in the service.


  1. Spiders have different hunting strategies

When it’s time to eat, spiders capture prey in a variety of ways. Spider hunting and their predatory nature is characterized in four ways: (1) web builders (like orb-weavers and widow spiders), (2) active hunters (like wolf spiders), (3) burrowers (like tarantulas), and (4) ambushers (like crab spiders). PMPs encounter hunting and web-building species most often.


  1. Shake it off

Many a gardener has had the unfortunate run in with a venomous spider in their gardening glove. While spiders aren’t aggressive, if you squish or trap them in clothing or shoes, they will be prone to react and bite. The few extra seconds of shaking out shoes or clothing stored in a garage, shed, or basement is worth it to minimize spider bites.


  1. Confusing common names… who is the real “daddy longlegs”?

Cellar spiders (family Pholcidae) are a web-building, long-legged, urban spider species commonly referred to as daddy longlegs. Opiliones (or harvestmen) is another arachnid closely related to spiders and is also colloquially known as daddy longlegs. Neither, however, are dangerous to people.

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Brittany Campbell, Ph.D., BCE

Technical Services Manager PCO Product Development

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