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Common Spiders in Kansas

Black Widow Spider with web and egg sac

Black Widow – Dangerous to Humans

Black widows are identified by red hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomens. Black widows are shiny black in color. Most black widow spiders’ bodies are 3 to 10 mm in size. Females are larger than males and can measure 13 mm in body length.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Black widow spiders favor dark, secluded areas such as crevices and woodpiles. Inside the home, black widows typically hide in sheltered, dimly lit locations such as garages, dark corners, basements, closets and cluttered areas. They thrive primarily in temperate zones and are known to be abundant in the American South.

Black widow spiders are poisonous to humans when bitten, it will usually feel like a pen prick, you may not realize that you have been bitten at first. The area around the bite will become red and swollen. You will develop more serious symptoms in a few hours. Chest and abdomen will be painful, muscles will cramp. Other signs you have been bitten will include difficulty breathing, nausea, chills, serve increase in blood pressure, sweating, weakness, and fever. These bites are especially dangerous for small children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Contact Betts for spiders pest control of black widows.

If you suspect that you have been bitten by a poisonous spider you should seek medical attention immediately.

Several species of “widow” spiders are present in North America. The most common are: the southern widow (Latrodectus mactans) found in the American South and Northeast; Latrodectus hesperus found in the west; the brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) found in the South, and the northern widow (Latrodectus variolus) found in the Northeast.

An important characteristic of the black widow spider is its comb foot. This row of strong, curved bristles is located upon the hind pair of legs and is used to pitch silk over captured prey.

Black widows are shy in nature. They are solitary, socializing only during copulation. Black widows are nocturnal and spin webs during daytime. They can sometimes be seen hanging upside down in their web, exposing a telltale hourglass abdominal marking. This marking is bright red and signals danger to predators and attackers.

On average, male black widow spiders are smaller than females, reaching only about half their size in length. However, the legs of the male black widow are considerably longer in proportion to the female’s and are marked by orange and brown at the joints. Males may exhibit red and white stripes on the abdomen depending on the species and are more colorful and finely patterned than females.

Like most spiders, the food source of the black widow spider includes a variety of arthropods, including ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches and scorpions, among others.

Black widows process their food outside of their bodies. After prey is caught in the web, it is injected with digestive enzymes. They consume the prey after it has softened and liquefied. Following feeding, the abdomen of the spider’s body expands as its stomach fills. Like most spiders, the black widow is capable of living for several months without food. Some specimens have been known to survive almost one year in the absence of prey. Black widows are the largest of web-spinning spiders.

Signs of Infestation
Black widows produce messy, irregular
webs. Webs usually are located near ground level and under a protected ledge such as under lawn furniture or wood piles. The female with the iconic red hourglass marking also indicates their presence.

Brown Recluse Spider next to penny

Brown Recluse – Dangerous to Humans

Adult specimens vary in color from dull yellow to tawny, dark brown. Younger spiders are lighter in color than adults. The abdomen of the brown recluse has no stripes or spots. Adults measure approximately 6 to 11 mm in length of body. At the widest leg span, their bodies are roughly the size of a United States quarter.

The most telltale characteristic of brown recluse spiders is the presence of a dark, violin-shaped mark on the dorsum of the arachnid’s light brown or yellowish-brown cephalothorax. The neck of this distinct violin pattern is directed toward the abdomen. Due to this marking, brown recluses are also commonly known as fiddle-back spiders. To positively identify a spider as a recluse, both the eyes and fiddle marking must be seen, since other spiders may possess one or the other characteristic alone.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Brown recluse spiders dwell in dark, sheltered places and can be found in homes, barns and basements. Webs tend to appear disorganized and are built most commonly near ground level. The spider is a hunter, so the web is not intended to catch prey but instead roams around searching for prey. The brown recluse is found in the central southern part of the U.S., from Texas to the western most part of Florida.

Brown recluse spider bites are poisonous to humans and may cause varying degrees of tissue loss (NECROSIS). Young children and elderly are most adversely affected. Although there are many reported cases of severe skin tissue loss due to brown recluse spider bites, some resulting in amputation. If you suspect that you have been bitten by a poisonous spider you should seek medical attention immediately. These bites are especially dangerous for small children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Contact Betts for spiders pest control for brown recluse spiders.

Signs of Infestation
The most likely sign of recluses are sightings of the spider.

Cellar Spider up close

Cellar Spider

The cellar spider is often found in damp locations like basements, crawl spaces and cellars, which is how it got its common name. Cellar spiders have small bodies with long, thin legs and are often confused with harvestmen, the true daddy longlegs that are not actually spiders.

There are two groups of cellar spiders, the long-bodied cellar spiders that have legs up to two inches long and the short-bodied cellar spiders whose legs are about ½ inch long. Cellar spiders are tan or gray in color. Like all spiders, they have eight legs. The most common Phlocidae in the United States is the long-bodied cellar spider. Because of their long legs, cellar spiders are often mistaken for the “daddy longlegs.”

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Behavior, Diet and Habits
Cellar spiders hatch from eggs, and when hatched, look like small adults who shed their skin as they grow. The female spiders encase their eggs in silk webs where they are protected against spider predators. Cellar spiders frequently infest homes and warehouses and make their webs in protective corners of basements, closets, attics, outbuildings and rock piles. They prefer to eat small moths, flies, mosquitoes, and other insects or spiders that are found near their webs. Male and female cellar spiders may be found in climate-controlled structures year-round. The spider reaches maturity in about a year. Once mature, the spider can live another two years.

The web of the cellar spider is irregular, with no discernable pattern. Although their bites are harmless to humans, their webs are unsightly and profuse: unlike other spider species, cellar spiders prefer to live within close proximity to one another, creating troublesome communities within human dwellings. Contact Betts for spiders pest control.

Like most other spiders, cellar spiders are highly adaptive and successful predators. Their diet consists primarily of insects, which they lure and trap within their webs before encasing them in cocoons. When food supplies in their environment are insufficient, these spiders travel to other webs and pretend to be trapped insects. As the other spider attempts to catch and consume it, the cellar spider attacks the unsuspecting arachnid. Also known as vibrating spiders, cellar spiders utilize wobbly, vibrating movements to confuse predators and attackers.

Signs of Infestation
The most likely sign are sightings of the spider.

Daddy Longleg spider on white brick

Daddy Long Legs

Common names are often misleading and cause a lot of confusion and mistaken identity. Such is the case with the daddy longlegs. Daddy longlegs actually refers to organisms called harvestmen who are members of the family Phalangiidae. Harvestmen have many names – harvest spiders, shepherd spiders and grandfather graybeards. However, their proper common names are daddy longlegs, harvestmen or opilionids.

The organisms are called harvestmen because they are often seen in large numbers in the fall around harvest time. Harvestmen have one body segment, two eyes, eight legs and 5/16 of an inch in length. The harvestmen’s second pair of legs is longer than the others and functions as their smell and taste sense organs. Harvestmen are not spiders, or even insects.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Unlike spiders, harvestmen aren’t venomous and don’t create silk webs. Unlike spiders that produce venom and deliver the venom via fangs, harvestmen don’t make venom and can’t deliver venom through a bite. This debunks an urban legend that falsely states daddy longlegs are the most poisonous spiders in the world, but their fangs are too small to penetrate human skin. In fact, harvestmen mouthparts, which they use to hold prey while eating them, are similar to crabs. Harvestmen produce a strong odor that repels most predators, which they use as protection.

During the daytime, harvestmen may be found in shady areas like under eaves; in basements and crawlspaces; on trees; and under rocks and logs. At night, they primarily search for food. It is rare to see harvestmen in a home’s living spaces. In the northern portions of their range, harvestmen live for only one year, while in the south they may live up to two years.

Signs of Infestation
Harvestmen populations around or inside homes are usually small. Since they are beneficial predators, control measures are usually unnecessary. During the fall, harvestmen populations may briefly cluster together. Should harvestmen be found inside your home, remove them with a vacuum or broom. If spiders pest control is necessary, seek the assistance of Betts Pest Control.

Common House Spider wrapped up in web

House Spider

Female common house spiders measure 5 to 8 mm in length, while males measure only 4 mm. Common house spiders are typically brown or gray in color, with darker chevron markings along their bodies.

A house spider’s body is divided into the cephalothorax and the abdomen. Like scorpions, mites and ticks, house spiders are wingless. They are classified as arachnids rather than insects and have eight, single-lens eyes.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
House spider webs are irregularly shaped and can be located in various places within a home, including windows, ceiling corners and above or beneath fixtures.

The presence of common house spiders is typically characterized by the formation of cobwebs. These silken thread structures can be found throughout infested homes. This abundance of empty webs is caused by the common house spider’s propensity to spin webs in various locations until it finds the most suitable place to catch prey.

Webs are designed as trapping mechanisms and are funnel-shaped, with the narrow end acting as a den for the arachnid. Any contact made with the web produces vibrations throughout the strand, signaling to the common house spider that prey is present. Although common house spiders feed primarily on insects, they may also consume larger spiders, scorpions, rodents and small reptiles.

Signs of Infestation
Signs of house spider infestations include the spider and their webs. Contact Betts for house spiders pest control.

Wolf Spider on ground

Wolf Spider

Wolf spiders are hairy arachnids that can grow up to 35 mm in body length. Their bodies are commonly patterned in black, gray and brown hues. Quick moving and relatively large in size, wolf spiders often inspire fear when they are found within human dwellings. Wolf spiders are also sometimes confused for tarantulas, nursery web and fishing spiders, and brown recluse spiders.

It can be difficult to differentiate between wolf spiders and the many species that resemble them. Most spiders have in common two-segmented bodies, eight legs and fang-like mouthparts known as chelicerae. However, wolf spiders do have shorter legs than web-building spiders and appear more robust than other species.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Wolf spider habitats range from woodlands and dry, inland shrub lands to wet, coastal forests and alpine meadows. Some wolf spider species prefer to dwell in suburban gardens. Coastal sand dunes, mountain herb fields or riverbank gravel beds are also home to many wolf spider species. Because wolf spiderlings travel great distances, the habitat of a single species can span a large region. There are several wolf spiders found in the west that are most commonly brown in color, although gray and black specimens have also been documented. Colored markings may appear along their bodies. Some western wolf spiders can be found indoors, while others are specific to wet outdoor areas like riverbanks.

Burrows in the Ground
Wolf spiders do not spin webs and reside instead within burrows. These burrows may be open or sealed with silken doors. In rainy seasons, wolf spiders plug their burrows with pebbles and build turrets to deflect floodwater. Twigs may also be placed at the top of the burrow.

In the Home
At the onset of the fall season, wolf spiders seek warmer habitats and have been known to enter homes, where they are found in windows, doors, garages, basements and houseplants.

The Carolina Wolf Spider is the largest documented wolf spider in the United States. Its color matches its habitat, allowing for camouflage. Other wolf spider species may inhabit alpine meadows, coastal forests, dry shrub lands and woodlands. Most species are burrowers that live underground, although some specimens can be seen traveling above ground in leaf litter, on lawns and in gardens. Most wolf spiders are also nocturnal, although some do hunt in the morning. A wolf spider’s diet typically consists of insects and other small spiders.

Signs of Infestation
All spiders have the potential to come indoors. Wolf spiders often scurry under gaps below doors, and jumping spiders accidentally may be carried in on people. Sightings of wolf spiders are the main sign of their activity. If wolf spiders are found invading a structure it is best to contact Betts Pest Control for spiders pest control.