Spiders: One of the peskiest of pests

Spiders, of which there are thousands of species, are found in most houses and gardens and can provoke some strong reactions from people, especially arachnaphobes! Although spiders can be useful in that they kill other insects (such as flies), most people don’t like having them around, especially as their bites can be poisonous.

In New Zealand, we have to take care around red-back and katipo spiders, for which anti-venom is needed if you’re bitten, but also white-tail spiders because they have an extremely nasty bite and can multiply quickly inside buildings. Most spider bites are toxic to humans – it’s just a matter of degree – and the wounds can become infected.

Spiders have eight legs, two body segments and three or four pair of eyes, but many have poor vision. They hide in dark areas and are more active at night. They produce silk that is elastic, adhesive and strong to spin webs as well as to construct egg sacs and line spider dwellings. The size and shape of spider webs vary: some are orb-shaped, while others are funnel-shaped; some webs are orderly, while others appear haphazard. Some spiders live in burrows rather than webs, while others are free ranging and take refuge in crevices.

Spiders enter homes in three primary ways: through open, poorly screened windows and doors and through cracks and gaps around door and window frames. They can also be concealed in boxes, on outdoor items and other objects brought inside.

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