There's a black and red spider in my car--now what?
October 13, 2014 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I just found a black and red spider in my car that ran into the seatbelt hole. What do I do?

I didn't get a good enough look at it so I don't know if it's a black widow (or how it would have got into my car.) It hopped a little, so maybe it's a jumping spider? Regardless, I am scared of it. I'm running around looking for a dust buster right now to stick down the seatbelt hole. Can I spray Raid in my car? Or what would you do? I have kids that I have to drive this afternoon. Ugh. Thank you.
posted by biscuits to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Black Widows are cobweb spiders; very stationary.

You can spray Raid, if it makes you feel better, but the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it being a harmless spider.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:11 AM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

The red part of a black widow is on its belly. If you only saw it from the top and you saw red, it's not a black widow.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:15 AM on October 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: This. It's the only way to be sure. ;P

More seriously, if you do go the Raid/exterminator route, I'd advise arranging alternate transportation for the kids this afternoon (rent a car? take a taxi with them?) so you can thoroughly air out your car overnight.

See also: previously.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:15 AM on October 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

Did it have short legs? Jumping spiders have short legs, frequently hop, tend to be red and black, and are cute and harmless. Black widows don't hop, have long creepy spindly legs, and are glossy black with a small red spot on the underside that you wouldn't be likely to see if you didn't examine it closely.

There are spiders all around you, in your car, in your home, wherever you're reading this right now. You just mostly don't notice them. Forget the Raid, don't worry about it, the spider has probably moved on.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:18 AM on October 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

In North America, there are only a few dangerous spiders: the black widow, the brown recluse, and the hobo. This does not sound like any of those. I would ignore it, but if you want to avoid spiders in your car, think about their food source -- insects;, possibly it is a bit damp.
posted by dhartung at 9:31 AM on October 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

You can always bug bomb your car. Best to bomb your garage, with the car in it and the doors and windows open. But, you can just bomb the interior of the car with the windows closed too.
posted by Flood at 9:31 AM on October 13, 2014

Please don't RAID your car. I would imagine the negative effects of bug poison on your kids (known harm) would far outweigh the risk of a bite from a spider of unknown type who, by your own telling, saw you and promptly ran away and hid (potential for harm).

If you're super worried, get out the shop vac or your normal vacuum cleaner with attachment and carefully and completely clean the car.

FWIW: I'm a fairly anxious person when it comes to my kid's safety and yet personally, I would totally ignore it.
posted by lucasks at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Buy Hobo Spider sticky traps. They really work.
posted by cda at 9:41 AM on October 13, 2014

I agree that it's almost certainly harmless and bug bombs/spray are total overkill. Vacuum your car, and if you don't have a crevice tool small enough to get in the seatbelt hole, use some canned air to blow it out and/or kill it. They sell it in the electronics department at Target.

But really, don't worry about it. I had a spider FALL ON MY HEAD WHILE I WAS DRIVING. I pulled over, ran my fingers through my hair (didn't find it), and kept going. I survived.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on October 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

The Raid is more dangerous for you and the children!!

I totally empathize with you, tho.

Take your car to the car wash and have it cleaned & vacuumed. You'll feel so much better after you do!
posted by jbenben at 9:51 AM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's almost assuredly not a black widow. They don't move fast and they like quiet, dark places and don't go far from their gnarly, shaggy webs.

Just ignore it. Spiders don't really want to have anything to do with you and are more likely to run away from you than to bite you or your kids. It may help to think of all the other yucky bugs that spiders are eating so they can't bother you.
posted by maniactown at 9:55 AM on October 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Handheld vac with a thin attachment should do it. Otherwise, it's too far in to come back and it'll die.
posted by michaelh at 10:17 AM on October 13, 2014

I disagree with those who say just ignore it-- not because I think the spider is dangerous, but because it's dangerous to drive when you're scared and on edge. You don't want to see something out of the corner of your eye, think it's the spider, and swerve or take your hands off the wheel when you've got kids in the car. Take your car to the car wash and ask them to spend extra time vacuuming (which is more powerful than what you've got at home).
posted by acidic at 10:19 AM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Did it have short legs? Jumping spiders have short legs, frequently hop, tend to be red and black, and are cute and harmless.

If you think it's cute and harmless you can leave it alone, but suddenly having a spider get on you while driving might lead to jerking the wheel abruptly or being distracted in traffic for you or any other drivers of your car, get rid of it.

Car wrecks are a pretty clear source of harm to children.
posted by yohko at 12:08 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live in a state where black widows are very common and we have found them in sheds, under cars and in the garage frequently. If it were me I would definitely be spraying it, but if they aren't common where you live that may as the above say be overkill. But I totally would.
posted by celtalitha at 12:15 PM on October 13, 2014

Most spiders want to steer clear of humans, so honestly I wouldn't worry about the spider. Vacuum if you must, but don't spray insecticide in your car. That's probably more dangerous to the children than a run in with a spider. If you're worried, you can tell your kids that you saw a spider in the car and to keep an eye out for it but don't touch it if they see it. Then, if you're not too scared, put a jar in the car to capture the spider to relocate it. I would guess you're never going to see it again.

I live in an area where both jumping spiders and black widows are pretty common. I love jumping spiders and respect black widows. I could probably walk out my front door and find four black widows within twenty feet. I've even had them inside the house, one at the head of my bed. (I just capture and relocate them away from the house.) Black widows are almost entirely web based and I have never seen one off its web except when they've just hatched and are too small to be even remotely dangerous. (Their mouthparts of small spiders--any small spider--can't penetrate the outer layers of keratinized skin that protect us.)

Make peace with spiders if you can. They're awesome little creatures!
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 4:07 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Last week I found fresh spider web strands in my car two days in a row. I had no idea where the spider was, so I ignored it. But the third morning when I was driving 3 kids to school, my daughter suddenly screamed because there was a spider on her arm. This caused the other two kids to freak out and we were on the Interstate in heavy traffic so I couldn't pull over.

I finally managed to get it with a napkin when it crawled up on the front passenger seat (next to my cringing 13-year-old) after a minute.

The whole situation was dangerous for driving.
posted by tacodave at 4:17 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I have convinced myself based on the answers above that it was probably a jumping spider. I'll try to think of it as cute and harmless. I drove around today and tried not to imagine it hopping onto my shoulder. Tomorrow--a thorough vacuuming at the car wash. I'll wait on the Raid for now. Thank you! (I marked Jacqueline best just for making me laugh)
posted by biscuits at 5:52 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Raid likely won't kill it anyway. They're the spider equivalents of agents in the Matrix. I've unloaded huge amounts of Raid on them and it did nothing.
posted by persona au gratin at 11:35 PM on October 13, 2014

Not to alarm you--the widow spiders are generally not aggressive unless provoked--but it could indeed have been a black widow. There is more than one kind of black widow, and some of them do have red markings on the top. (There's also a red widow as well as a brown widow, which I'd never seen before two years ago, which has an orange hourglass rather than a red one.)
posted by johnofjack at 9:15 AM on October 14, 2014

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