I recently spent the day talking to 7th graders at West Valley Junior High School about horticulture and asked the students to ‘show-of-hands’ who was scared of spiders. Immediately almost everyone’s hand shot up with lots of “ooohhhs!” over how creepy the students thought spiders were. I also started hearing lots of urban myths about spiders and felt it was time to set the record straight – for both 7th graders and adults – spiders are not nearly as spooky as they seem! Here are a few reasons why (and a few tips to reduce your run-in with them):
- Spiders are predators in the garden, meaning they help to control insect pest populations.
- Contrary to popular belief, brown recluse spiders do not occur in Utah.
- Contrary to popular belief, there is no strong scientific evidence that hobo spider bites cause necrotic lesions in humans.
- Big spider size is not representative of its level of danger to humans (or painfulness of its bite) – some are just gentle giants!
- Our most feared spider, the black widow, tends to hang out in sheds, garages, or other similar structures, so by keeping these spaces clean, you can limit your exposure to them.
- Never store clothing like ‘yard shoes’ or ‘work gloves’ in unsealed containers in garage or shed spaces – you are asking for a spider bite!
- Keep windows caulked and window wells free of debris to limit the amount of spider traffic into your home through cracks and crevices.
For tips on spider control, more bite prevention tips, and lots of spooky pictures of spiders found in Utah, see the USU fact sheet spiders. Happy spider hunting!