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With its lush foliage and seemingly endless resources, Washington state plays host to a wide cross section of the 3,000 species of spiders found in North America. And while these eight-legged inhabitants are generally seen as pests, with the exception of one standout venomous arachnid, they are all are virtually harmless.
Common House Spiders
There are several common spider species that choose to inhabit human dwellings, but don't worry -- they don't like you any more than you like them. Funnel-web spiders are typically found in bathtubs and sinks, while hackled band weavers, colorful jumping spiders and cobweb spiders prefer to live and weave their webs in dry, dusty environments found in basements and wood piles.
Common Outdoor Spiders
Some Washington arthropods prefer to avoid your company altogether, opting for an outdoor living situation. Crab spiders hang out in flower beds, blending in with colorful blossoms to surprise their prey. Sheetweb spiders are partial to dense fields and wooded areas to weave their delicate, dewy webs. The largest family of spiders, orb weavers, construct their expansive webs in gardens and on porches.
All spiders are capable of biting and injecting venom into humans. However, according to the Washington State University Extension, most of them produce only a mild reaction, comparable to a mosquito bite. The only truly dangerous spider found in Washington is Latrodectus hesperus, or the western black widow. They typically live in wood piles, under eaves or fences, and in basements or crawl spaces. Black widows are shy, but will deliver a dangerous neurotoxin if disturbed.
Spiders offer more benefits to humans than danger, so if they're not bothering you, feel safe in allowing them to help you around the house and yard by preying on insects and other spiders. However, if you really want them gone, chemicals should be a last resort. The Washington State University Extension suggests mechanical prevention. Seal entry points around windows, doors, pipes and electrical lines, clear woodpiles and debris away from your house and vacuum regularly.
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