[Spider Control] Spider Hangouts

Features - Spiders

These eight-legged pests can be tricky to find in and around structures. Here’s where to look for them.


Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from Techletter, a biweekly publication from Pinto & Associates, Mechanicsville, Md. To subscribe, visit www.techletter.com, or call 301/884-3020.

Sometimes you need to find the source of a spider infestation, especially if the spider in question is potentially harmful — black widows, brown recluses and other poisonous spiders pose real health risks that should be curbed as quickly as possible.

An important point to remember is that spiders like to hang out where their prey hangs out. Think about indoor areas that are most apt to have accumulations of insects — that’s where you’ll find spiders.

Look for areas where lights are left on at night. Spiders gravitate to these sites to catch flying insects. Outdoor lights draw them to entrance ways. Inside, look near night lights in bathrooms or bedrooms, or where lights shine through windows. Check corners of windowsills and the space between inner windows and outer storm windows, or between screen doors and inner doors.

Dark and Secluded.
The same spider that is out and active near lights at night may spend the day — the time when you’re likely to be inspecting — hidden behind molding, or inside light fixtures, or in boxes or stacks of paper or other materials.


Five Spider Tips for Summer

By John Kane

Spider control can be challenging, particularly in the warmer months when spiders are most active.

In the wake of aberrant weather, we may expect to see a livelier year in terms of pests. A greater availability of insects will result in a greater presence of insect predators such as spiders.

Spider control can be challenging, particularly in the warmer months when spiders are most active.

Here are five tips to keep in mind this summer as you work to reduce spiders in and around customers’ homes.

#1: Reduce the number of prey

Spider management is not just for spiders; you must also manage their food sources. Whether by habitat modification or chemical intervention, less prey will result in fewer spiders. A dry perimeter and excellent sealing work around windows and doors, combined with a granular insecticide, can effectively reduce the prey source.

#2: Reduce moisture
Moisture and decay provide food sources for detritivores (pill bugs, millipedes, springtails, etc.), which in turn provide food for spiders. Less moisture will result in fewer insects, from the bottom of the food chain up to the top. Ask your customer how frequently they water their yard and whether their sprinkling schedule can be reduced or even turned off for a while, if need be.

#3: Trim vegetation
Trees and shrubs near the home can provide shade, hold moisture and create more hospitable microclimates for spiders. They can also provide structural “bridges” into the home. Trim vegetation away from the exterior of the home to reduce insects and spiders.

#4: Determine the type of spider
Knowing how different spider species hunt can help reduce spider infestations. For visual hunters such as wolf or jumping spiders, remove accumulated leaf litter and let mulch dry out. For burrowing spiders, such as trapdoor spiders, check the surrounding ground for holes and fill them. For web weavers, reduce areas hospitable to web formation. Areas hospitable to web formation will provide air flow, moisture and structural support.

#5: Determine a realistic threshold
Unless your customer’s property is made up entirely of concrete, maintaining a 100 percent spider-free home and yard can be unrealistic — nature will occasionally intrude on any property surrounded by vegetation. As a result, it’s important to work with your customer to determine an acceptable threshold.

John Kane is the technical specialist for Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company. Learn more about Western by visiting www.westernpest.com.

Look Up!
Look for loose webbing or globular egg sacs in dark corners, behind large items hanging on the wall, at junctures of walls and ceilings, around window frames, behind drapery and in closets.

The most common indoor spider, the American house spider, hangs upside-down in a tangled, irregular web (either up high or down low), surrounded by dead insects and spider egg sacs. Groups of spiders can live together in overlapping webs under furniture, in corners or closets, in window frames and inside the empty space between screen and basement doors.

Look Down! The first thing you see may be liquid fecal droppings. The dried fecal spots range from white to gray. If you see spots on the floor under a piece of furniture, equipment, table or chair, it’s a good bet that the spider is hanging from a web or hiding in a crevice directly above, but out of sight.

Both black widow and brown recluse spiders prefer to make their nests low, within a few feet of the ground. Black widows usually are found outdoors under stones or wood piles, in sheds, garages and other outbuildings. When black widows are found indoors, they’re usually limited to unoccupied areas such as garages or crawlspaces where they nest in undisturbed areas, in and behind objects.

The brown recluse can be found in the same outdoor sites as the black widow. Indoors, it’s often found in stacks of papers or debris, in boxes, closets, clothing or shoes, or under furniture, especially in little-used rooms and in attics.

Treating Spiders Quickly

As PMPs prepare to battle spider infestations this summer, there are a variety of reasons why these pests may often have the upper hand (er, leg).

MGK’s Technical Services Manager Chris Swain says the top complaint he hears from PMPs about spider control is that spiders can be hard to kill (they seek out cracks and crevices and other inaccessible areas; and, their body structure and webs allow minimal contact with insecticides). He said managing customers’ expectations is a struggle as well.

As a result, Swain said his No. 1 spider prevention tip is to remove or limit spiders’ food source. “My No. 2 tip is to remove the webbing of web-spinning spiders prior to treatment,” he added.

When it comes to choosing a product to control spiders, MGK’s Onslaught FastCap is fast-acting and provides long-lasting residual control of spiders, scorpions and a broad spectrum of other insects, the firm says. The product’s polymeric surfactant formula kills fast yet has a long residual, MGK reports, and its unique formula contains Exponent brand synergist and two other active ingredients.

“My favorite aspect about FastCap is its speed and versatile label,” Swain said. “What makes this such a great product is PMPs get the best of both worlds (speed and residual).

“FastCap works great for spider and scorpion control because of its synergized dual-action formulation,” Swain said. “Our test results on both spiders and scorpions showed excellent results.”

Onslaught FastCap is flexible — it may be used indoors and outdoors; in homes and in food and non-food areas of commercial structures; it can be used as an indoor broadcast treatment option; and, it can be used in and around livestock facilities, on turf, ornamentals and landscapes.

“FastCap is effective on a wide range of pests,” Swain added. “We have done several field tests with FastCap on mosquitoes with great results. It is also effective on bed bugs, roaches and ants.”

For more information about MGK’s Onslaught FastCap, visit www.mgk.com.


The authors are well-known industry consultants and co-owners of Pinto & Associates.