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Spiders

Spiders come in all sizes from microscopic to an impressive and scary 12 inches across.

For the most part, spiders are harmless if not beneficial critters. Almost all will happily spend their lifetime outdoors where they hunt unmolested and eat potentially harmful insects that invade their territory including your home and garden.

There are two exceptions that are poisonous and can harm you if bitten. They are the venomous black widow spider and the brown recluse spider.

Black widows usually spend their life outside around rocks or dead wood. However, they will at times invade your garage in search of food or moisture and somehow find their way into your home. They can live as long as three years. Their common name is attributed to the fact that the female will often make a meal of the male after mating. This is not an uncommon trait of spiders.

The female of black widow spiders is easily identified. She has a shiny round black body about one half inch across that has a red hourglass mark on the abdomen. She has the ability to store sperm which enables her to produce many offspring after an initial mating. Males are harmless and much smaller, about one half the size of the female. Males are not as striking, are much lighter in color and have no outstanding markings except sometimes some even lighter streaks on the abdomen.

Female black widow spiders are generally docile unless provoked or guarding eggs. In such an instance they can become extremely aggressive and will bite when disturbed, injecting their poison into your bloodstream.

In the event of a bite, see your doctor. Symptoms will vary and may be mild at first but can accelerate with time and include nausea, chest or abdominal pain and general weakness.

The brown recluse spider is larger. Their bodies measure 3/4 of an inch or more at maturity - not counting their long legs. They live much longer than the black widow. It can take up to five years for this spider to reach maturity and its full size potential.

This is a large, heavy bodied spider, tan or light brown color all over except for the abdomen which may be darker towards the end and sport a so-called violin mark on their back, but don't count on that for identification because it is not always obvious.

The main diet of the brown recluse spider consists of dead insects, but they will hunt if this preferred food can not be found. They are nocturnal and usually seek food at night. Their bite is not to be taken lightly because it causes tissue damage which takes a long time to heal. Bites can be fatal under certain circumstances. Knowing the source, contact your doctor immediately to forestall any complications.

Combating both these potentially lethal spiders, the best defense is offense. Squash or crush any that you see in and around your home because they are very much resistant to pesticides or common household bug spray.

Things you can do to capture or kill them inside your home are sticky traps which immobilize them.

When working outside, wear gloves, long pants and a long sleeved shirt. Be alert and wary as you should be whenever you do any kind of yard work.

Try to clean up trash and debris around your yard and garden including old rotten wood or limbs that have fallen and are decaying. Trim or remove vegetation and shrubs that are too close to your home. Improperly fitted or loose window screens can become an avenue of entrance for spiders and other critters.

Don't feed your pets outside. They will invariably sling out some food particles and no matter how small - bugs will be attracted.

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