Spider Surge: Eight-legged crawlers close in on Midlands homes - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Spider Surge: Eight-legged crawlers close in on Midlands homes

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – If you have noticed more spiders around your home than usual, you are not alone.

Forestry experts say this is peak time for spiders to reach adult size, but if it seems like there are more than usual, it turns out you only have to go back a few weeks to find out why.

Chapin homeowner John Gardner says his home has always been a haven for spiders. "Certainly around the flood lights and in the windows is where they're most noticeable," said Gardner.

But this year he's called in extra help-- the Mosquito Squad of Columbia.

"This year has been incredible," said Colleen Haskin, the owner of the Mosquito Squad. The squad, which also specializes in spider control, says they are getting a lot more calls than usual, and it turns out all the August rain may have something to do with it. "All this moisture, it's an ideal environment for everything that creeps and crawls," added Haskin.

Officials at the South Carolina Forestry Commission say it's not that the spider population is increasing, but the excessive rain actually created a bigger menu for spiders.

"A lot of insects, like cockroaches and crickets, that live in a little bit of damp areas under mulch and leaf litter…when that gets really wet they come up a lot higher, said Laurie Reid, a forest health specialist with the Forestry Commission. "Because these spiders are looking for that because that's their food source, they are more likely to be close to our house."

So if the spiders are too close for comfort, Reid says first try moving mulch away from your home.

"One thing I always tell people is if you have a lot of mulch around your house, and you're seeing a lot of things you don't like, like cockroaches or crickets, or anything like that… pull that mulch away and make it a drier environment," said Reid. "You won't see those anymore, which in turn, you won't see as many spiders because that's the food they're looking for."

If that's not the problem, your outside lights could be. "You can turn your light off, which is going to reduce the number of insects coming in, which is not going to be a food source anymore, and those spiders are going to high-tail it out of there," said Reid.

Reid says unless the spiders are harmful like black and brown widows, or the brown recluse, do not be too quick to get rid of all of them. "I like to say, ‘Do you like mosquitoes, cockroaches or crickets around your house? Well, no? The spiders are going to eat them. And do you want caterpillars in your garden eating your tomatoes? Well, you've got spiders that are going to be targeting those insects, as well.' They do a lot of good things for the environment," added Reid.

Reid says you can tell a lot about a spider by the kind of web it makes. If the web is big and intricate, it's most likely a type of orb weaver, like the garden spider (They're black and yellow spiders that make a zig-zag in their web).

More dangerous spiders like the brown and black widows make less intricate webs that have much less of a design.

As for homeowner John Gardner, he says he's glad he is having the areas that were hard to control treated. "It's been a week now, and there are no spiders in that area."

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