Lake Norman & Mooresville

Spiders, spiders everywhere

If you see a spider and think of "Charlotte's Web" and the magic of an unlikely friendship, consider yourself blessed. Others see the arachnids and just want them to go away.

The N.C. State University Department of Entomology tells us that spiders have a well-established but largely undeserved reputation as being dangerous to the health of people and their pets.

In truth, the department notes, spiders are extremely beneficial because they prey on many insects that we consider to be true pests in our homes and gardens.

Not all spiders build elaborate webs to catch their prey. Some species ambush victims from tubular tunnels built in the ground, under rocks or other areas. Other species build a loose collection of webbing in which they live. These types of spiders are the ones that most frequently invade homes. They may remain hidden for most of the day, then hunt for prey at night.

In author E. B. White's award-winning children's novel, a barn spider named Charlotte writes messages in her web praising a pig named Wilbur in order to persuade the farmer to spare Wilbur from slaughter.

Spiders in your world are beneficial and control many insects that feed on the flowers, shrubs and other plants in gardens and natural areas, according to N.C. State. Spraying insecticide in these areas may actually increase the number of pests by killing off natural enemies.

Web-building spiders are most likely to show up where insects are abundant, such as in wood piles, around porch lights, near windows or near water sources, including spigots. Knocking down webs with a broom or burst of water from a garden hose is adequate for "control."

Finding a large number of spiders indoors usually indicates an ample supply of insects and other spider food in the area. Any real attempts to get rid of spiders should focus on eliminating these insects, N.C. State recommends. The long-term solution, according to N.C. State, includes non-chemical measures such as reducing or eliminating conditions that attract insects - high moisture and ready access to food of some sort, or finding the entry points used by both insects and spiders and seal or close these areas.

And if the spiders don't bother you, enjoy the beauty of their webs and think, "Some pig." Amazing.