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Posted on: May 31, 2018 at 2:08 pm
Last updated: June 20, 2018 at 9:53 am

Admit it, you’ve jumped and screamed when a spider has crawled along the floor next to your foot. Whether you’re a spider-lover or not, we’ve all done it. Humans are biologically hardwired to fear these creepy crawlies, it’s how we’ve survived and thrived as a species. But, before you grab that rolled-up piece of newspaper, I urge you to reconsider, because common house spiders could be saving you in ways that you didn’t even consider.

Matt Bertone is an entomologist; in other words, a person who studies insects. He and his team conducted a visual survey of 50 North Carolina homes to see which spiders like to live in our homes. The result? Every single home had spiders, and the most common were cobweb spiders and cellar spiders. So, as much as we like to think that our front doors separate us from the outside world, the truth of the matter is that spiders are a part of our lives whether we like it or not.

And we need them.

Why We Need Spiders in the World

They Eat Disease-Carrying Insects

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One of the main benefits of having spiders in the world is that they eat the insects that spread diseases, like mosquitoes. Picturing a spider eating another insect may not necessarily give you warm, fuzzy feelings, but their meal-choices help to keep us safe.

There’s even a species of jumping spider that prefers to eat blood-filled mosquitoes in African homes[1]” Says Bertone.

So really, these little arachnids are important predators within our household.

Medical Research

An interesting, lesser-known fact about insects is that they provide us with valuable medical research. Spider venom has been proven to have the potential to act as a safe painkiller and may be able to treat strokes and muscular dystrophy. The venom of spiders is also able to be used as antivenom for larger spider bites[2].

Another fact that you may not know is that spider silk is one of the strongest materials discovered. You may be wondering how this is possible when we can swat it down with one hand, but for its size, spider silk is comparable to high-grade alloy steel[2].

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These small and fascinating creatures have a lot to offer the medical and scientific world.

They Prevent Pests from Destroying Crops

As natural predators, spiders prevent pests from destroying our crops. They do this simply by feasting on the pests[4]. Again, not the most endearing way of thinking about them, but if they keep our food safe then we should be thankful!

But can they hurt us?

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Almost every spider is venomous, but in most of them, the venom is so weak that it doesn’t affect a human at all. Also, spider bites are extremely rare[3]. There are a few types of spiders to be concerned about, particularly widow spiders and recluses, but even bites from these are not common. Remember, spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them.

How to Get Rid of Common House Spiders Safely

The spiders inside of our homes can be there for a number of reasons. They could be trapped inside, or be temporary guests, or they can spend their whole lives living in our home. They aren’t aggressive or dangerous, and for the most part, we don’t even notice their presence.

If you do happen to see a spider and want it gone, instead of screaming and swatting, consider how beneficial that spider is to the world and your home. Don’t kill it, but instead try to capture it using a flat piece of newspaper and release it back outside.

Watch this informative video to see how you can catch and release a spider safely:

Whether you can see them or not, there are spiders in your house. You can’t prevent them from coming in, but you can adjust your mindset to see them in a different light and to see the value that they bring to your home.

Next time you see one of these little guys cruising through your home, please don’t kill it!

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Sources

[1] Matt Bertone. Should I Kill Spiders in my Home? An Entomologist Explains Why Not To. (May 16, 2018). https://theconversation.com/should-i-kill-spiders-in-my-home-an-entomologist-explains-why-not-to-95912

[2] Honor Whiteman. Spider venom peptide could prevent stroke-induced brain damage. (Mar. 21, 2017).

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316504.php

[3] Chris Buddle. Update: Spiders STILL Don’t Bite. (June 13, 2013). https://arthropodecology.com/2013/06/13/update-spiders-still-dont-bite/  

[4] Rita Stadler. Why are Spiders Important and What’s Their Purpose? (May 19, 2018). https://www.earthkind.com/blog/spiders-important-whats-purpose/  

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