Spooky spiders – fact vs. fiction

Oct 29, 2021, 14:45 PM by Fred Speer

Sunday is Halloween, a time for devils, ghouls, and goblins to come knocking at your door in search of a trick, but more likely a treat.

Clark, your friendly pest control, termite, and grounds expert, enjoys Halloween just as much you do, and would like to draw your attention to a pest that gets its 15 minutes of fame every October 31: spiders.

Fall is peak season for many spider species, which makes sightings more abundant in and around your home. While spiders play vital roles in California’s ecosystem, they are not something you want to share your living space with.

“Spiders may also become more obvious this time of year as they grow larger, build webs, and actively mate,” says Blair Smith, technical manager for Clark Pest Control. “In the spring when spiders emerge from egg sacs as spiderlings, they are inconspicuous, but as they continue their life cycle and become larger this time of year, people may notice them more.”

California spiders

Some spider species found in California may bite if disturbed, but most are not harmful to humans. Here is a quick overview of three spiders often found in California:

Black widow spiders are black and shiny, with a telltale red hourglass shape on the underside of their abdomen. This spider tends to seek out dry and dark locations. Female black widow spiders are known to be aggressive and bite in defense, especially when guarding eggs. In rare cases, black widow spider bites can be fatal if there is an allergic reaction.

Brown widow spiders are found in San Diego County in the south to Los Angeles County in the north, as far east as San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and as far west as Santa Barbara County. They are the most prolific breeders – one female can bear 5,000 young spiders per season – and they weave messy webs. Favorite harborages include plastic lawn chairs, plastic flowerpots, and bird-of-paradise plant leaves – any sheltered place that offers hiding. Only females bite. Brown widow spider bites reportedly are less severe than those of their black widow cousins.

Non-venomous cellar spiders have extremely long, skinny legs with small bodies that are usually tan or gray. They are usually found in dark corners of cellars, crawl spaces, and garages, and they construct loose, irregular, even messy webs. Their active and extensive web spinning makes them more of a nuisance than anything else.

Dangerous or not, most people prefer not to have any spiders in their homes. The best way to prevent spiders is to remove harborage sites. Keep garages, attics, and basements clean and clutter free, and seal up cracks or crevices around the home. Shake out and inspect shoes and clothing before dressing, and remove webs around the house.

Common spider myths

As with much of the lore around Halloween, there is fact and fiction regarding spiders. Clark would like to set the record straight on what is spider fact and what is spider fiction.

Myth: Spiders are insects.
Fact: No, spiders are arachnids, as different from insects as birds are from fish.

Myth: "Arachnid" just means spider.
Fact: "Arachnid" doesn't just mean spider. The 11 arachnid orders include scorpions, ticks, and some other arthropods; spiders are just one order of class Arachnida.

Myth: "Eight legs" always means "spider."
Fact: All arachnids, not just spiders, have four pairs of legs.

Myth: All spiders make webs.
Fact: All spiders make silk, but only about half make a web (a silk structure to catch prey); others hunt or wait for prey.

Myth: A "daddy-longlegs" is a kind of spider.
Fact: "Daddy-longlegs" means harvestman (not a spider), crane fly (an insect), or pholcid spider.

If spiders or other pests are creeping you out, call California’s trusted pest control expert, Clark, at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at 

Clark Pest Control is committed to safeguarding your home from pests during these challenging times. Our service technicians use such personal protective equipment as gloves, masks, and respirators, they practice social distancing, they call ahead to notify before a service, and they adhere strictly to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when servicing inside or outside your home.

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home.

Happy Halloween!

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