black widow spider

A black widow spider with its characteristic markings.

Support Local Journalism

I don’t anticipate you are going to see many spiders wandering your home this time of year but here’s some food for thought next time you see a creepy crawly.

I remember growing up under the tutelage of an affirmed arachnophobiac. My father hated spiders. We all knew of his fear because it was so ingrained that it was impossible to hide. Mom was the one called upon when any eight-legged invaders were spotted. In contrast to Dad, Mother had no fears. I once watched her smash a black widow spider with her bare hand. Upon seeing this my insides tried to escape to my outside. Unfortunately, I knew whose genetics I inherited.

Many people share, to varying degrees, a dislike of spiders. Like my father, I will never be able to convincingly deny my own phobia. However, it is comforting to know that we are fortunate to live in an area where my fear is nearly entirely unfounded. We only have a single species of spider whose bite is medically significant to humans, the black widow.

Early evidence suggested hobo spider bites caused slow-healing, ulcerating lesions. That early evidence has since been refuted, and spider experts no longer consider hobo spiders to be a threat to human health. Accordingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the hobo spider from its official list of venomous (harmful) spiders in 2015. We have hobo spiders, and they can bite, but they are not poisonous to people.

The brown recluse spider is another that I feared growing up. It is poisonous, but they cannot live in our climate. You would have to travel south as far as St. George, Utah, or Las Vegas, Nevada to get into recluse range.

All other spiders that we do have are not considered dangerous to humans. A wolf or garden spider may bite you, but their venom is not medically significant. Of course, certain people may experience allergic reactions to any bite. This can be thought of like a nut or bee allergy. The likelihood of you being bit AND having an allergic reaction are very rare.

I won’t be the one to let a spider crawl on my hand like my oldest brother, who apparently took after Mom in that department. But I can now safely (I hope) say that I don’t emit high pitched squeals at the first sign of an arachnid. In all, I’d say I’ve become a good mix between my mother and father. I have a healthy respect for the ability of spiders to bite while maintaining my dignity as spider dispatcher in my family.

So remember, the black widow spider with it’s shiny black body and red hour-glass underbelly is the ONLY spider in our area you need to fear a bite from. Other spiders are simply beneficial predators looking to eat insects. I like to see them in my garden…just not in my basement.

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.