Spider ID and advice
May 2, 2012 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Over the past week or so we've had an influx of spiders, mostly in the second floor of our house. As near as I can tell, they're comprised of daddy long legs and [ARACHNOPHOBE TRIGGER WARNING] these guys. I was hoping some of the more knowledgeable among you could help me identify this species and advise whether we should seek professional help. I'm also curious if anyone has any tips on how to minimize the spider population indoors (unfortunately, peaceful coexistence is not an option due to the feelings of some members of the household).

Some possibly relevant details:
  • We're near San Jose, California.
  • The spider in the picture was about 1/2 to 3/4 inches long (since I couldn't provide anything for scale), and is pretty representative of others I've dealt with.
  • They don't seem to be interested in sitting in a corner in a web; they have mostly been seen wandering around ceilings upstairs.
  • I have taken care of at least half a dozen of the pictured spiders plus a couple more daddy long legs in the past few days.
posted by stufflebean to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster:
  • Oh, and I'd prefer to avoid any chemical warfare since we have pets in the house.

posted by stufflebean at 11:46 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: I think they are probably a huntsman spider or a wolf spider. I have them in my house, too, and they are surprisingly large. I am also in the South Bay.
posted by joshu at 12:43 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: Spiders are carnivores, as are most harvestmen (daddy long legs, which are technically not spiders), though many species are also scavengers. Therefore, to get rid of them, you need to get rid of what they are eating, most likely insects. That can be hard, though. I have a cricket and ladybug invasion every fall, and try as I might I can't find all the cracks where they get in. Have you noticed any increase in how many bugs there are in the house in general?

Some spiders get their food by spinning webs and trapping prey; others, like the ones you have (I'd guess a wolf spider, but I'm no arachnologist), are hunters, relying on their speed and agility to catch their prey. That's why they are wandering around. You could buy some spider traps, which use glue to catch the beasties, as long as your pets wouldn't get stuck in them too. Often spider traps are designed like little boxes so that larger creatures can't get in. Any hardware store should carry them.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:43 AM on May 3, 2012

Is your upstairs area insect prone? Are you expecting rain? The second spider looks like a huntsman and it migrates inside before rain. They move around feasting on insects (and even cockroaches) without the help of a web.

The daddy longlegs does use a web and will prey on insects and on other spiders including the huntman; maybe that's why its numbers have picked up.

Both the daddy longlegs and the huntsman are harmless house spiders, and routine vacuuming/dusting and screening for insects will keep the indoor populations down.

Both will help your house stay insect free, though. Pity you have to kill them.

Consider catching huntsmen in a glass against the wall, it's not difficult, and release, live, outside.
posted by de at 2:45 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: The spider in the link looks like some variant on a wolf spider; as long as they're not directly bothering you, let them be; they will not only keep your pest insect population down, but they'll keep your poisonous/venomous population down. Houses with wolf spiders are less likely to have black widows and brown recluses indoors.

The daddy longlegs (for clarification -- I believe stufflebean is talking about these, not a harvestman -- are about as harmless as you can get for a household spider, but they're largish and not afraid to build webs where people hang out. This is the season for those -- they're all over my house now, too, building webs between my bed and the wall and in the shower for maximum annoyance factor. Tear down the webs, leave the spider alone, and eventually they'll move into the crawlspaces and non-traffic areas of the house. We're doing renovations in a different house removing suspended ceilings, and found those guys everywhere; their webs got torn down, and the next morning, boom, new webs in a different corner of the house.
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:48 AM on May 3, 2012

Being an arachnophobe and a Buddhist, it is quite a struggle. I have found that there is a season for spiders. I don't live in CA, but I do reside close (a block) to the water. I vacuum all of the corners on the floors and ceiling and in the places where critters hide, I spray Ortho Home Defense in the corners and all along the baseboards. It is pet safe, but I don't let the dog in the room until it is dried. Good luck. (I shiver just thinking about the spiders!)
posted by Yellow at 6:19 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: I am fine with spiders as long as they remain outside. I have had and may still have a wolf spider infestation. If you won't use chemicals buy some glue traps and place them everywhere.
posted by futz at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2012

Oh, and I second what Yellow said about ortho home defense inside and outside. Or at the very least spay it outside along the perimeter of your abode.
posted by futz at 6:50 AM on May 3, 2012

I'm all about Terminix. They spray the perimeter of the house outside. Been using them for years. But I live in the South and the bugs down here don't play.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:31 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: Burn the house down. Only solution. o.0

But seriously, I'm seconding the Ortho home defense. I've also found that we had a couple small places around doors that weren't sealed tightly, thus allowing for spiders and other creepies to be in the house where they had no business being. Might wanna check the seals around windows and doors, especially on the second story.
We always referred to the pictured spider as a wolf spider...I'm not entirely sure that's the 'technical term' for them but we have had them off and on for years here in the South. (Ours stayed on the floor, though...I'd not be happy with them on the ceiling!)
If you want to try something different first, look into sticky/glue traps. We had them in our basement after a random family of fleas decided to take up residence, but they attracted spiders as well. These had a little light over the sticky pad that attracted bugs. (Caught a lot more than fleas too...) Just a thought.
posted by PeppahCat at 8:51 AM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: I was told by an exterminator that bug spray only works on spiders if you spray them directly. Otherwise they are not bothered by it and happily eat the bugs the spray DID kill. Just sayin'.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:23 PM on May 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!

After some more research (and recalling some of the others I've dealt with), I'm pretty sure we're just dealing with some wolf spiders. I wasn't too worried about them, and if other people in the house weren't so spider-averse, I would probably either live and let live or at least trap and release.

I haven't noticed much of an uptick in the insect population around here (but I guess that could be due to the spiders). We're due for a late spring cleaning anyway, so maybe that will help.

I marked a few best answers (mostly for identifying the wolf spider and recommending non-chemical treatments), but everyone was helpful.
posted by stufflebean at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2012

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