Why you should not kill house spiders

In general, people tend not to enjoy sharing their home with insects, spiders parasites and other unwanted animals. Some may even find that killing insects in the home is almost a ‘reflex’ action. This compelling need to kill insects may be considered an act of defense, in an attempt to maintain hygiene in the home - but this is in fact a bad choice, especially when it comes to spiders. Matt Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University (USA), explained to Mega Interesting his understanding of the real consequences of killing household spiders, and impact this can have.

There are approximately 50,000 different types of spiders in the world. Many of these are based outdoors but there is also a large group that takes refuge indoors and in enclosed spaces. These indoor spiders are in general, not at all dangerous to humans. Bertone explains that spider bites are extremely rare and, leaving aside the more poisonous tropical species, they rarely cause major problems.

Even if you do not see spiders in your home all the time, the reality is - it’s very likely some are taking shelter hidden around the house. Some will be trapped accidentally and others will have strategically chosen a house to settle in and reproduce. According to Bertone, house-based spiders (the vast majority at least) are neither aggressive nor dangerous. Spiders actually perform practical functions including catching pests such as flies, and some even catch other spiders.

Also, the spiders in your house likely aren’t the terrifyingly huge, mammal-devouring specimens that make great headlines. In Bertone’s study on 50 homes in North Carolina, his team primarily found common house spiders, like harmless cobweb spiders and cellar spiders present. While most spiders are venomous, their venom often isn’t strong enough to affect you, and their fangs are often too small to pierce your skin. If you shudder at the thought of spiders crawling over you while you’re sleeping, keep in mind that this is not likely to happen either. Snoring, rustling, and even plain breathing are enough to keep spiders from investigating further.

Invisible companions who protect our home

Spiders are classified as predatory species that feed frequently on insects and other pests. Many of the insects spiders catch and eat are carriers of diseases, which are harmful to humans, such as mosquitoes.

The two most frequent types of arachnids found during Bertone’s investigations are known by their tendencies to create webs in order to trap their prey. These spiders also sometimes pretend to be prey in order to surprise other types of spiders before eating them. Taking Bertone’s research into consideration, experts say that killing household spiders is a bad idea. In addition to taking the insect’s life, killing spiders can increase the survival chances of those species that are actually harmful to humans.

Regardless of their unpopularity, spiders have been shown to form an important part of ecosystems. If you have a phobia of spiders, or you simply do not want them in your home, Bertone recommends capturing them and releasing them far enough away from you house, where you feel safe, to avoid killing them. "But if you can handle it, it's okay to have spiders at home. In fact, it's normal. And frankly, even if you don't see them, they'll be there," concludes Bertone.

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