Harmless and Venomous Spider Pests in Massachusetts

Like stinging insects such as wasps, bees, and hornets, spiders do not carry diseases. Instead, spiders in the home and garden are often harmless. However, Massachusetts has its fair share of venomous spiders. It also has quite a collection of harmless spiders that make themselves comfortable in the home and garden.

But before you start stressing about how to get rid of spiders, you should learn more about them. Find out what they are, the difference between venomous and poisonous spiders, and what species live in Massachusetts.

What Are Spiders?

Spiders are arthropods belonging to the arachnid class and the Araneae order. Some live on plant material. Others live on proteins like other insects.

People often ask how many legs do spiders have. The answer is they have eight legs. Spiders typically have four pairs of eyes. These arachnids also have two body parts, the head, and thorax.

There are over 50,000 spider species worldwide, which is separated into 132 families. Spiders also live on every continent, except for Antarctica.

Spider species worldwide have three different homebuilding techniques. They either live in the ground, build webs, or don’t build webs and live in trees, plants, other elevated areas, and homes.

What Is the Difference Between Venomous and Poisonous Spiders?

Venomous creatures include anything that has fangs or stingers and injects toxins into people or other animals. Most spiders are venomous, but only a few are dangerous to people because their fangs are too small to pierce human skin.

Poisonous spiders and other creatures like toads and snakes are dangerous only when eaten by other animals. In other words, they don’t inject toxins into their victims, but if something eats them, they can die due to the poisons they contain.

Although this distinction between injecting toxins and consuming poisons can be confusing, it is also quite simple. If it can inject you with a substance, it is probably venomous. If you eat it and it makes you sick or kills you, it is poisonous.

Harmless Types of House Spiders in Massachusetts

There are primarily three spider species that you see indoors in Massachusetts. These species are the daddy long legs, the house spider, and the American house spider.

  • Daddy long legs belong to a group of spiders with tiny bodies and exceptionally long, delicate legs. Other spiders in this family are cellar spiders, gyrating spiders, long daddy, skull spiders, carpenter spiders, and others. They are harmless and typically look for secluded spots in the home to weave their webs and capture their prey.
  • Common house spiders, or Tegenaria domestica, are a family of house spiders that inhabit North America and elsewhere. This Tengenaria family has small species like the Tegenaria domestica (less than half an inch) to the larger Tegenaria parietina that grows to over five inches. The barn funnel weavers or drain spiders are other names for some spiders in this family. They build webs and also hunt away from their webs.
  • American house spider (Parasteatoda Tepidariorum) – although venomous, these house spiders are non-aggressive. They are also too small to be harmful to people.

Venomous But Not Dangerous Spiders

It may sound strange, but not all venomous spiders are dangerous to people. Many venomous spiders are not aggressive except toward their prey. Here are two species you may see in or near the home in Massachusetts.

  • Wolf spider species grow between 0.4 and 1.38 inches. Although they may come inside to catch prey or for shelter, they don’t typically live in houses. Because some species are pretty big spiders and look like common house spiders, people often confuse the species.
    The wolf spider bite may be painful but is not dangerous and seldom requires hospitalization or special medical care. Besides, these spiders tend to stay outdoors and away from people.
  • Yellow sac spiders also live and hunt outdoors. Occasionally, they may venture inside and live in dark spaces. Like the wolf spider, the yellow sac spider only weaves webs for egg sacs and as shelters.
    Also like the wolf spider, their bite can be painful, but you will unlikely need hospitalization. However, you may need some medical attention depending on the amount of venom it injects into you if you’re unlucky enough to get on its bad side.
    People sometimes confuse the yellow sac spider with the brown recluse spider. They’re not the same, so try to capture one if it bites you, as medical treatment will be vastly different for the two spider bites.

Venomous Spiders

Massachusetts features four types of spiders that are venomous and possibly dangerous to people.

  • The Northern Black Widow (Latrodectus variolus) is uncommon in Massachusetts. When these widow spiders appear, it is usually in spring and summer. This species is venomous, and its poison attacks the nervous system. Victims may experience seizures and death. However, attacks on people are rare, and adults with healthy immune systems mostly survive the bites of these spiders.
  • Brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) spiders are not nearly as dangerous as black widow spiders despite the fearsome reputation of this family. Because they are smaller than the black widow, they inject less venom with each bite. However, only the lower dose makes their neurotoxic venom less dangerous than the black widow. Luckily, these spiders are rare in Massachusetts, as are reports of them attacking people.
  • Black widow spiders (Latrodectus mactans) are also known as the black widow, southern black widow, or shoe-button spider. Only adult females can deliver exceptionally venomous bites. Despite their reputation, though, adult people with robust immune systems can easily survive these bites, although they are painful.
  • Brown recluse spiders are rarely seen in Massachusetts. These spider bites are necrotic, often causing rotting skin around the bite. Their venom can also cause other adverse and severe reactions.

Spider Pest Control in Massachusetts

There are few reports of venomous spider encounters with people. When there are encounters, these are seldom fatal. Spiders generally avoid people, but you still don’t want nests of them in your garden or home.

The biggest problem from spiders is infestations and having them overrun your home or garden. Another issue is that their presence often signifies other insect populations, providing them an ongoing food source.

You can keep spider populations in check with natural, organic, or conventional pest control methods. Call us for a free quote and evaluation of your pest problem, and we’ll happily help you to resolve the issue.