Black widow

Black Widow

Good spider or a bad spider. Most spiders in Arizona are venomous, yet few are dangerous to humans.

How do you tell? Ryan Bennett, vice president, Bill’s Home Service, helps us identify the ones we don’t want to meet in a dark alley or even a well-lit hallway.

Scarier Than It Is

Tarantula

“Tarantulas are large, hairy spiders that are typically found outdoors. The species common in Arizona is brown and seldom exceeds five inches,” said Bennett. “They will bite, but only when aggressively provoked. Due to their passive behavior and propensity to prey on many other unwanted insects, tarantulas are considered a beneficial spider to have around the home.”

Crab spider

The crab spider is one of the largest spiders in Arizona. With a leg span of 2 to 2¼ inches, it can scamper rather quickly, extending its legs at right angles from its body, like a crab. Find it in dead saguaros and under rocks. In your home, it can be on the ceiling.

Wolf Spider

Often mistaken for a small tarantula with its larger body and fur, this beneficial spider feeds on other insects, including cockroaches and sometimes enters homes looking for food and water.

House Spider

House spiders are often mistaken for brown recluse spiders because of their similar size and color. Though not particularly aggressive, they will bite when threatened. Their bites heal quickly and pose little danger to humans.

Approach with Caution

Black Widow

Any critter with “widow” in its name can’t be a good thing. “The black widow is easily recognized because she is black with a red hourglass on the underside of her abdomen.” said Bennett. “The male is considerably smaller, only up to half an inch long.”

Arizona Brown Spider / Brown Recluse

Although the brown recluse can’t survive on its own in Arizona, its close relative, the Arizona Brown spider, is a recluse spider that is native to the area and has a similar darker brown fiddle-shape on its back. “It loves to be indoors and generally stays out of sight,” said Bennett. “It may never be seen until you startle it by reaching into a dark spot where it is hiding. Then it will bite.”

Bites tend to happen when putting on clothing or shoes that haven’t been worn recently. So shake out your bloomers and boots before putting them on.

If you suspect being bitten by a black widow or recluse, seek medical attention immediately.

Hide & Seek

The black widow and recluse can be found:

• Under the lip of the stucco, near the foundation

• Corners and undisturbed places in the garage and shed

• Toy bins, cubbies, and sandboxes

• BBQs and patio furniture

• Woodpiles

• Cardboard boxes

• Around clutter and debris

No Vacancy

Keep spiders out of your house with these simple measures:

• Destroy spider webs on sight.

• Regularly dust ceiling corners and behind frequently open doors.

• Keep crickets and scorpions out of your house.

• Turn off outdoor lights that attract flying insects.

• Seal holes and cracks in your walls, foundation, and roof (but not weep holes).

• Keep your house clean. Spiders hide in dusty areas and around food.

• Look for spiders when dragging things out of closets or attic.

• Store extra clothes and wrapping paper in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids instead of cardboard boxes.

• Use a leaf blower to clean shelves, corners, and floors in your garage.

• Call a reputable pest-control professional.

So before grabbing a size 15 shoe to squash it, consider the kind of spider it is and its value to your home's environment.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 7 to 10 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.

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