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House Spider

House Spider Kukulcania (Filistata) hibernalis Hentz, is a conspicuous arachnid in Florida due to its relatively large size and distinctive flat, tangled web. It is common throughout Florida and much of the southern United States in human populated areas.

House Spider

House Spider

Males of this species are often mistaken for the notorious brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik, because of their color and general shape. Southern house spiders are not known to have a dangerous bite. However, two bite cases reportedly caused the victims pain and swelling for a few days. .

house spider female is 5 to 6 millimeters in length with a yellowish-brown carapace and a dirty white to brown abdomen with gray chevrons. The legs are yellow, with darker rings at the end of each segment. Some individuals have a triangular, black spot on the top of the abdomen. The male is 3.8 to 4.7 millimeters in length with orange legs.

The southern house spider is partial to spaces within the masonry of buildings; especially dark recesses of windowsills, shutters and overhangs. Females and juveniles make specialized webs that are occasionally found under tree bark but are frequently seen on houses, barns, bridges, and other man-made structures. Here a spider seeks out a sheltered crevice for a nest, around which a distinctive web is made on the adjoining substrate.

House Spider

House Spider

Under microscopic inspection, the silk of this web appears to be “wooly”, an appearance created by the action of the calamistrum pulling silk from the cribellum. This web lacks sticky droplets which are characteristic of entrapment strands in webs of some other spider families. Rather, with K. hibernalis, the structure of the web itself is responsible for entangling prey.

Males do not build webs but instead wander in search of females in order to mate. Females lay about 200 eggs that are loosely swathed in a silken ball about 15 mm in diameter and are kept with the female in her nest. In Florida, all stages of development seem to be present throughout the year. Females may live up to eight years.

Life Cycle :Males and females can be found at anytime of year, and there are reports of the spiders living for a year or more after maturing. Themale and female will coexist in the web and mate repeatedly. The egg sacs are brown and ovoid with tough, papery covers and can be 6 to 9 millimeters in diameter. A female may deposit 12 or more egg sacs over her lifetime, each containing 140 to 380 eggs.

Detection:The distinctive tangled, unkempt web easily identifies the presence of this spider. The eye protuberance, size and color of both sexes, and the ling legs and palpi of the males aid in field identification. Wandering males are easily captured in shell vials; females must usually be trapped outside the nest on the web.

House Spider Bite

House Spider Bite

Controlling spiders:As a precautionary measure, become familiar with what poisonous spiders look like and how they act. Because spiders nest in quiet, undisturbed areas, discourage them by cleaning and vacuuming closets, cellars and other such areas frequently.Seal buildings with caulk, screening and weather stripping to keep spiders from entering.Tape or seal boxes, especially in storage areas infested with brown recluse spiders.Where possible, wash off outside areas, particularly under roof eaves, with a water hose.

Mechanically removing the webbing may be necessary because no chemical treatment to dissolve webs is available.When chemical control is needed, use products containing diazinon, chlorpyrifos, propoxur, bendiocarb, synergized pyrethrins, carbaryl, resmethrin, tetramethrin, malathion or mixtures of these insecticides. Always follow label directions and use only products labeled for spider control or for use in areas where spiders are found. Spray or dust outside under roof eaves, window ledges and porch and patio roofs.

Inside, spray around windows, door facings and baseboards and in attics basements and storage places. Chemical control may not always be as successful as desired because spiders are mobile and may migrate back into the area. Also, species that sit on the web may not pick up much residual pesticide.Because some spiders, such as the brown recluse, can be difficult to control, homeowners may wish to engage a professional pest control operator.

House Spider Egg

House Spider Egg

First aid for spider bites: Relieve local swelling and pain by applying an ice pack, ammonia or alcohol directly to the bite area. In case of severe reaction, consult a doctor immediately and, if possible, take along the spider for positive identification. Specific antivenin is available to treat some widow spider bites.

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