Spiders everywhere, but I don't know what kind they are.
September 20, 2012 7:30 PM   Subscribe

What kind of spiders are these?

The only thing I hate (HATE) about our new house are the spiders. There are bunches of them everywhere. We pulled down the heavy floor to ceiling drapes down in our front room and found these spiders clustered on the ceiling around both ends of the drapes. I say they're Daddy long legs, my guys says they're wolf spiders. He also thinks they're dead because they didn't move while we were pulling down the drapes. Neither of us wanted to go near the hardware they're clustered around to bring it down.

There's something like the brownish one that keeps popping up in our bathroom only they're stockier and they chase us out of the bathroom. I've killed about three of those suckers, I don't put up with bugs that stalk me, but whenever I take down one, another takes its place. I don't have any pictures of them, but again, my guy says they're wolf spiders and they don't eat much. It's just creepy having a spider stalk me and chase me.

Anyway, can someone tell me if we just flirted with danger by taking the drapes down around these spiders? Are they harmless? helpful? I left them alone because they left us alone, but if they're dangerous, I'll put down some lemon soap or sumthin'.
posted by patheral to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
Best answer: Bottom line: These guys are more likely than not just fine where they are.

Where on the globe are you located, patheral? If you could just give a general region, that would be helpful. From the photos, it looks like there's a red patch on the spiders -- is that accurate? Are their legs spindly and stripey? Do they look furry, or smooth? I'm generally siding with your guy on them being wolf spiders. "Daddy long legs" refers to a lot of different things (usually Opiliones Harvestmen, sometimes Crane Flies, neither of which are spiders), but none of the things they refer to are poisonous.

If it helps any, my crazy bug-handling friend says that it's really pretty hard to get a spider to bite you, and she pokes and prods them all the time. She even kept a black widow for awhile, but it died when it had babies and she definitely didn't want a hundred black widow babies.

That said, I totally give you permission to kill them if you want to even if they are harmless. It's your house, you get to make the rules about who lives there, and even if they're "beneficial," you're not really going to get a lot of pest control out of a few spiders.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 7:58 PM on September 20, 2012

Where do you live? Are you in a Brown Recluse hot zone? I ask because, on downloading the full size, it looks to me like it could possibly be a brown recluse, simply because on one it looks like there's a fiddle on the back. The only way to know for sure is to catch one and look at its eye pattern: six eyes in three sets of two in a crescent.

I have lived with a brown recluse infestation for many years. They're really not a big deal and leave us alone. I have several photos of the ones we have caught in a gallery here if you want to look at comparisons to yours.

Note that if you do NOT live in the recluse zone, the chances of yours being recluses are slim to none.
posted by Addlepated at 7:59 PM on September 20, 2012

By the way, recluses usually run away from people, not towards them, so I'm betting your bathroom spiders are wolf spiders as you suspect. And for the ones in the living room, how about vacuuming them with a long vacuum tube attachment? That way you don't have to get close.
posted by Addlepated at 8:03 PM on September 20, 2012

Definitely not a wolf spider; they live in the ground and are stockier. Like Addlepated, I wondered about the Brown Recluse possibility, but can't tell from the photos. The "fiddle back" is how you'll know.
posted by Snerd at 8:05 PM on September 20, 2012

Response by poster: Sorry for not mentioning it in the OP, I'm exhausted and foggy (fibro kicking in, you can probably tell by my disjointed post even though I proofread the stupid thing...). We're in Albuquerque, NM. So, yeah, recluses are popular here.
posted by patheral at 8:14 PM on September 20, 2012

Best answer: Okay, so spider prevention - first and foremost, if you have gutters, clean them! This was the main thing that cut down our problem dramatically.

Also check for things like firewood being stacked next to your house or other things like shrubs, mulch, and plants that touch the house; that's a bug highway.

Check under your sinks on the water supply lines - can buggies fit through there? If so, hit the holes with some expanding foam. According to my exterminator, that's a very popular place with the arachnid set.

You can also buy glue traps to catch the little monsters. Put them under sinks, behind potties, under furniture. If you have pets, make sure they're out of reach... invariably I have to rescue a cat from glue trap shoes every couple of months. They never learn.

Exterminators can spray for them, but they'll just do a barrier thing around your house entrances. Really, you need to deal with your outside habitat and the ways spiders get in.

Spiders are freaky looking and an inconvenience, but they can be dealt with. Please feel free to MeMail me anytime if you have questions. Like I said, I've been dealing with them for a long time.
posted by Addlepated at 8:22 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, I didn't see a fiddle on the spider's back, but I didn't really get close enough to check. I've never seen anything like the white ones before in my life (I called them ghost spiders, the bodies are almost non-existent). I actually missed them until my hand nearly brushed them. They're all over the ceiling, about eight or nine of them, but the brown one is the one that caught my attention. I'm really not familiar with the spiders around here, and there're so many of them...
posted by patheral at 8:22 PM on September 20, 2012

Oh! And I forgot to mention as well - you may be looking at molts and one single spider, rather than an infestation of several. Spiders shed their skins and leave them behind as they grow. Those ghost spiders could just be empty spider suits.
posted by Addlepated at 8:26 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh! And I forgot to mention as well - you may be looking at molts and one single spider, rather than an infestation of several. Spiders shed their skins and leave them behind as they grow. Those ghost spiders could just be empty spider suits.
posted by Addlepated at 10:26 PM on September 20 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

I did not know that! Learn something new every day.
posted by patheral at 8:30 PM on September 20, 2012

If you really want to know for sure, I'd suggest asking the folks over at What's That Bug? Or perhaps browsing their site to see if your spiders look familiar.

They also have a ton of good information and have helped assuage my fears of spiders...well, a little. Spiders are still kinda freaky.

Good luck!
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:28 PM on September 20, 2012

As someone who lives in the southern Plains and is very, very adept at distinguishing brown recluses from other spiders, these don't set off alarm bells for me. It vaguely does look like one, along with the small male, but it looks a bit off. Also the ceiling area is a really unlikely spot for them, too. About 99% of the brown recluses I've seen are near the floor in shady areas with lots of hiding places and a good line of sight (undersides of furniture, cardboard boxes, etc) or in/on stacked debris.
posted by crapmatic at 2:15 AM on September 21, 2012

Do you have a vacuum cleaner with a wand attachment? Just point and hoover.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 AM on September 21, 2012

For what it's worth, I have seen recluses (verified by looking at eye patterns) on the tops of walls, in bath tubs, on the bottoms of mattresses, in window sills, in drawers, and in all sorts of other weird places. Since there were previously long curtains there, it's quite possible that whatever species you have climbed them. That's another thing to be mindful of as you treat your home - don't leave laundry on the floor, don't let sheets slump off the bed and onto the floor, remove dust ruffles, and so on. Also shake out shoes before putting them on.
posted by Addlepated at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2012

Here's a link to a good, authoritative site on recluses in America. Seconding the 'ghost spiders' in your pics as molts of the darker live spiders occupying the web. There's not enough detail in the pics to be sure, but this (admittedly novice) spider IDer doesn't think they look particularly recluse-y.

According to various range maps, recluses (and the similar the Aggressive Hobo Spider) do not occur in central or northern New Mexico. They prefer either low deserts or humid climates. The chances of recluses turning up in Albuquerque are probably pretty small.
posted by Kibby at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, so we know they're probably not brown recluses, and not wolf spiders, and not Daddy-long-legs. I went to What's that Bug and just couldn't stomach looking at all those bugs. It was sensory overload with the bug thing.

And I think my guy is right and the ones on the ceiling are dead because they haven't moved since we pulled down the curtains. However, their brethren in the closets are very much alive and well, and look just like them (too fast for pictures). I'll leave them alone if they leave us alone, but can anyone tell me what they are? They're brown, smooth (no hair), and fast! The pictures I have are about the best I can get... I only have the camera on my phone and the ceiling is pretty high.

And the only vacuum we have is a little cordless canister vac. No wand attachment. I could bring the dead one down with a broom, I suppose, but I have a slight phobia of bugs, especially dead bugs, I don't even like to vacuum them. Ugh!
posted by patheral at 7:44 AM on September 22, 2012

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