The average human swallows eight spiders a year while sleeping, or so a popular urban legend would have us believe. While there is no truth to this purported “fact,” it’s curious that those who perpetuate it don’t quote a higher, potentially more believable number. Brown recluse spiders, one of the most potently venomous arachnids in North America, lay up to fifty eggs in a single egg sack. They’ll produce several sacks per mating season, and the adult stage of this spider’s lifecycle lasts as long as two years. The math can make your skin crawl– hundreds of hatchlings from a single female. With stats like that, it’s not your mouth you should watch; it’s theirs.
Both brown recluses and the more infamous black widow can be found in the tri-state area, but while widows keep to the outdoors, recluses, as their name suggests, stay close to home. By nature, these spiders burrow in the bark of fallen trees, but basement boxes and laundry-room hampers make appealing shelters, as well. Most bites occur when an unsuspecting human rummages through such a bin or box and disturbs an equally unsuspecting spider.
While only the aforementioned species pose a serious threat to humans in our region, a variety of other spiders weave their webs in our gardens and under our porches. These include the grass spider, wolf spider, hobo spider, and Saint Andrew’s cross spider. Their venoms do not pose a significant threat to humans, but their bites can be painful and irritating.
If you’ve noticed spiders in your home, think of the ones you haven’t noticed – and their hatchlings. Unless you’re a trained professional, dealing with an infestation can be difficult. Spiders are hardy survivors, and brown recluses have been known to live six months without food or water – up to a year in extreme cases. As with any pest, it’s best to leave it to the Masters.