Winter Spider Infestation – Fact or Myth

Author: Kurt Treftz, Cascade Pest Control

Is it spider season? Maybe you are seeing more cobwebs or a few more eight-legged “friends” are scurrying across your path and suddenly you wonder if you are facing a spider infestation. It seems like the taciturn arachnids are making an appearance. But is it true? Are there more spiders in winter?

According to the experts, not really.

Most of those spiders have been there all along. We might just be noticing them more because in the fall the males come out to mate. So, it isn’t that there are MORE spiders just that they might be moving around more.

You might also see the webs more clearly, because they are more noticeable in the bare trees and branches as the leaves fall.  

Let’s understand a little bit more about spiders before we put this spider infestation myth to rest.

Outside Spiders

Contrary to the idea that spiders are seeking shelter in your house during the winter, that is simply not the case. Spiders are actually uniquely suited to survive in a variety of environments, including cold weather. In fact, as the temperature cools in late summer, outdoor spiders are starting to produce an glycol compound that acts as an antifreeze in their bodies.

Over winter, outside spiders find a nice place to hide – often digging down through the snow and soil to find an insulated place. Then they go into a state similar to hibernation, called diapause. Unlike hibernation, however, they can still move and hunt. This pause in their development just leaves them more sluggish and quiet.

As the weather warms in the spring, they re-emerge ready to assist you in insect control around your property. Spiders really are beneficial around our homes – although most of us would prefer they stay there. But what about spider control in our houses?

House Spiders

In general, spiders do not find human habitats to be suitable – likely because there isn’t the abundance of prey that they need to survive. (Kudos to good housekeeping). However, there are a number of species that are attracted to the nooks and crannies of your home or those that accidentally make their way inside while searching for a mate.

House spiders actually find the voids in your home like attics, wall spaces, basements, crawl spaces attractive. In a surprising truth, the house spiders you see have probably been there awhile. They stay hidden all year long and only emerge to mate. This can make spider control a bit difficult since they aren’t always readily seen.

Spider Infestation Concerns

Spiders are extremely beneficial arthropods, but when they enter our homes they can become a nuisance causing mental stress, especially for those with arachnophobia. Just seeing a few spiders might make you think you have a spider infestation on your hands. But that is generally not the case.

While most spiders bite to subdue their prey, not many actually bite humans or have venom dangerous to us. They don’t usually invade in large numbers and they are reclusive.

The spider of biggest concern in Washington state is the black widow. This spider likes to hide in dark, quiet places and can surprise homeowners as they clean out untouched yard spaces, storage areas, basements, and garages. A black widow bite should be treated by a medical professional before infection sets in.

The presence of other spiders is less a concern because of the spider and more a concern that the spider is following prey into your house. You might have a bigger pest problem than a spider.

Spider Prevention

A simple spider prevention solution to spider invaders is a clean house with little access.

  • Keep screens in good repair to prevent ballooning spiders from entering
  • Sweep and vacuum regularly to reduce cobwebs inside and outside
  • Close gaps or openings along foundation, doorways, window sills
  • Eliminate other pests that might attract them

Don’t worry about a spider infestation this winter!  Be grateful for your eight-legged friends. But if you are seeing too many or worry about them inside your home or business, call the spider control experts at Cascade Pest Control 888-989-8979. We are here to help.

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