Beneficial Spiders


Predatory Spiders Can Control Insect Populations

Most experts agree that spiders can be found in two out of three American households, making them perhaps the most ubiquitous pests. Be that is it may, arachnophobia—that is, the fear of spiders—is one of the most prevalent creature-based fears on earth. Despite the irrational fear that many people often harbor towards spiders, they do actually provide quite a few benefits in a household.

They are predatory insects and, as such, feed on their own species and other insects. Their diets include roaches, earwigs, mosquitoes, flies, moths, and others. They have been known to feed on almost any household pest, and left to their own devices, can prove to be surprisingly effective pest control agents by themselves.

Moreover, these insects eat their own species, and can usually control their own populations in most instances. When two of these insects come face to face with one another, they engage in some sort of gladiator-like competition. The winner of these conflicts usually eats the loser. In relatively closed environments like basements or attics, the population will occasionally shift from several small spiders to only a few larger ones for this reason. One particular species, known as the long-legged cellar spider, is known to prey upon black widow spiders, perhaps making its presence in the home more welcome.

In addition to their predilection for preying on other insects, spiders also have the capacity to curtail the spread of harmful diseases by preying on disease-carrying insects like cockroaches and mosquitoes.

Spiders often live about one to two years—if they aren’t killed and eaten first—and continue to reproduce throughout their lifetime. As is the case with many insects, they are most sexually active in the spring and summer, and their young will mature throughout the summer and fall. Given their often minuscule size, they can easily gain access to your home through tiny cracks and cervices. That said, spring and summer will likely be the most probably times that spiders might make inroads into your home.

There are a number of measures you can take to reduce the chances that spiders will enter your home. You can attempt to prevent the entry of spiders and other insects by caulking, sealing, or otherwise blocking possible points of entry. Obviously, it won’t be practical to seal every last nook and cranny of your home, but every little bit helps.

Likewise, it’s a good idea to remove debris, plants, trash, mulch, woodpiles, and other detritus from around the edges of your home, and ensure that no such material directly touches the outer walls of your home. This will effectively reduce the number of places that these and other insects can hide, and will reduce the likelihood that they will crawl from these objects onto your home. Since spiders will often nest in above-ground nests, it’s also a good idea to administer pesticides around outdoor corners and cervices where spiders are likely to take shelter.

If spiders have made unsightly appearances around your home, call Cantu Pest Control at 972-562-9999 (Dallas and Fort Worth areas) or 713-956-7822 (Houston area) and schedule an appointment today with one of our friendly, experienced pest control experts.


What are Harvestmen?

Harvestmen are more commonly known as “daddy long legs.”  Although there are thirty seven families and six thousand five hundred species, “daddy long legs” refers to only one family of Harvestmen, the Phalangiidae.  With such a profound number of species, harvestmen can be found almost anywhere in the world.  Interestingly enough, eighteen families of harvestmen can be found in Texas.

The old legend claims that “daddy long legs” or harvestmen are the most venomous animal in the world; but they do not have fangs long enough or a mouth conducive to biting a human being.  This tale, however, is nothing but a preposterous tall tale!  Harvestmen do not have glands that contain venom.  Also, the chelicerae or pseudo fangs are simply used to grasp things and are not powerful enough to penetrate the skin of a human being.  Furthermore, harvestmen are slightly pesky nuisances, especially when crawling briskly across you, but they are medically harmless.

Distinctiveness of Harvestmen 

Although most people probably consider them to be spiders, harvestmen differ as spiders have two separate body segments.  Harvestmen have a single, globular body that has a distinctly segmented abdomen.  The two eyes almost appear as if they are glued in place on the surface of the body.  The harvestmen’s eyes do not form images and are used in conjunction with their second pair of legs, pseudo antennae, to delve into their environment.  The body looks much like the body of a crab.  Extending from the single-segmented body are many long spindly legs appearing much like very thick strands of hair.  There are, however, species of harvestmen that have short legs.  Additionally, harvestmen have scent glands just outside the base of their legs that produce an obtrusive odor.  This odor may indeed be the reason that many people believe them to be poisonous.

Living Conditions

Harvestmen, found in covered areas such as caves and beneath logs and other wooded areas, are considered both predators and scavengers.  They prey upon other small insects and arthropods alike, most of which also inhabit wooded areas with overgrown vegetation.  Typical arachnids have a filtering mechanism called a sucking stomach that protects them from parasites.  Harvestmen do not have this filtering mechanism and are prone to internal parasites.   Harvestmen are equal opportunity in that they will eat dead animals, live or dead plant matter, and the feces of most any animal.  These omnivores do hunt their prey but find meals of dung equally delicious!

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