As a child, you may have sung the “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” over and over again. Perhaps you used your hands to mimic the spider as it climbed up the waterspout.
But as an adult, you might not find spiders as cute as they once were. Those eight legs and beady eyes are enough to send shivers down your spine. You may feel the urge to smash them on sight.
Yet you also know that some spiders are good. They eat annoying indoor pests and even keep other spiders in check.
So how do you know which spiders to remove and which ones to let alone? Check out the following guide to identify your next friend or foe.
Ant Mimic Spider
Ant mimic spiders have elongated bodies and walk with their front pair of legs raised in the air, much like antennae. At a glance, you may think this spider looks like an ant, until you count its legs. They tend to live in lawns, gardens, and fields, but they rarely enter the home.
Friend or Foe?
Ant mimic spiders re not aggressive toward humans, and they will likely run from you if they can. If you provoke them, their bite is unlikely to induce serious illness. And if you do experience a bite, you may see some swelling and redness, which often goes away within a few days.
Carolina Wolf Spider
The Carolina wolf spider is the USA’s largest species of wolf spider. Adult female body grows up to 22-35 mm (0.86 – 1.3 in), and the males grow up to 18-20 mm (0.7 – 0 .78 in)-and their legs grow longer still. These hairy spiders have tan and dark brown coloring that enables them to camouflage well with the forest floor, though it does make them easier to spot on sandier soil.
Many homeowners confuse wolf spiders with tarantulas or brown recluse spiders. But the wolf spider lacks the bulk of a tarantula, and it does not have the recognizable violin-shaped pattern of the brown recluse.
Friend or Foe?
Although its size and speed may scare you initially, keep in mind that the wolf spider does not willingly attack people. It may bite you i f you tried to pick it up, but its venom is nonlethal. Most compare the wolf spider’s bite to a wasp or bee sting.
If the spider does bite you, you may experience some itching and swelling. The pain may last for up to 10 days. Keep the wound clean and monitor the bite for any sign of infection.
Note: If you see any tissue death or the development of a lesion around the area, you may have misidentified the spider-it may have been a brown recluse. Seek immediate medical attention.
False Black Widow
Many homeowners mistake false black widows for their more dangerous cousins. Although this spider has a recognizable round abdomen, it does not have any hourglass markings on the underside of its belly. And many false black widows have dark brown coloring and p ale markings, rather than a sleek black appearance.
Friend or Foe?
False black widows are not aggressive toward humans, and they often hunt the more dangerous black widow spider. Typically, these spiders will flee in the presence of a much larger creature, though they do bite when disturbed.
Often times you will not usually feel their bite at the time of contact, but you may feel a local burning sensation within 20 minutes. After a few hours, the area may swell around the two small puncture wounds, and you may see a small bluish tinge in the skin.
However, these effects don’t last long. Place ice on the area to reduce swelling, and apply an antiseptic cream to prevent infection. If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention-you may have misidentified the spider. After all, this spider does look similar to a regular black widow.
Southern Black Widow
Southern black widows have a trademark red “hourglass” mark on the bottom of their round abdomens. They are shiny and hairless, and you may note a red spot behind their spinnerets, or red stripes down the center of the top of the abdomen.
Friend or Foe?
The black widow venom is highly poisonous to humans. As the venom spreads, you may experience cramping, seating, nausea, restlessness, and fever. Though their bites rarely result in death, they can cause respiratory difficulties and other symptoms that require hospitalization.
If a black widow bites you, try to capture or kill the spider and bring it to the doctor’s office for proper identification. If you can’t catch the spider, don’t fret-immediately wash the area, put ice on the bite, and seek professional treatment.
Not Sure Which Is Which?
If you see a spider not listed here, or if you have difficulty identifying a spider, talk to your local pest control expert. He or she will treat your home for spiders and provide recommendations for preventing future visits from eight legged friends and foes.