Spiders! Eeeeeck! There’s Less to Fear than You Think
By Alan Caruba
“If there is one genus—arachnids—of insect pests that people fear, it is spiders,” says Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. “With the exception of the Brown Recluse spider and the Black Widow spider, most do not pose a biting problem.”
A quick way to know whether you are dealing with a spider or some other insect is to know something about them. All spiders have two body segments and eight legs. If your insect doesn’t have two body segments and eight legs, you don’t have a spider.
Spiders also have two short appendages, one on each side of their face, that are called “pedipalps” or simply “palps.” They are basically modified legs that aid them in food manipulation, mating, and sensing their environment. They do not count as legs, but you will probably notice them while counting the real legs, if you are inclined to do so. Spiders will occasionally lose legs in battle, during mating, or during molting.
“Unlike other insects famed for biting humans such as yellow jackets, mosquitoes, and bed bugs, spiders generally do not bite humans,” says Douglen. “Spiders have no interest in sucking our blood or deterring us from removing their nests. They only bite in defense and that only rarely occurs.”
“In fact, most spiders couldn’t bite people even if they wanted to,” says Douglen. Of approximately 3,000 different spiders in the U.S., only a small number have fangs that are long enough and strong enough to break skin.”
There are, however, four spiders that pose a threat of biting. They are Recluse spiders, Black Widow spiders, Hobo spiders, and the Yellow Sac spider.
In New Jersey there are a variety of spiders common to the state. They include the Daddy Long Legs, the Black and Yellow Garden Spiders, the American House spider, the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow spiders. People most often encounter spiders if they have gardens and, with the exception of the Black Widow they do not bite. In a home or an apartment, anyplace dark is a likely habitat for the latter two spiders.
“Venom from the Brown Recluse will cause local tissue damage,” said Douglen, “and symptoms of a bite can include burning, pain, itching, and redness at the site which can develop within hours or days of being bitten. Bites usually display a deep blue or purple area, surrounded by a whitish ring and a larger red outer ring. A bite can cause headaches, body aches, a rash, fever and nausea or vomiting.”
Treatment should include washing the area well with soap and water, applying a cold or ice pack wrapped in a cloth, and especially for children, the application of an antibiotic lotion or cream.
The symptoms of a bite from a Black Widow spider include immediate pain, burning, swelling and redness at the site. Usually the double fang marks are visible. After being bitten, the victim can experience cramping pain and muscle rigidity in the stomach, chest, shoulders and back, accompanied by headache, dizziness, sweating, salivation, and tearing of the eyes. “The Black Widow bite is a neurotoxin,” says Douglen. “People can experience weakness, tremors and even paralysis, especially in the legs.” Treatment is comparable to that of the Brown Recluse bite “and the victim is advised to seek immediate emergency care for further treatment, as one may require muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and other medications.”
“Studies have shown that about eighty percent of spider bite diagnoses are wrong,” says Douglen. “It is common to misdiagnose insect bites because at least thirty different medical conditions can cause skin lesions.”
“In New Jersey, the most common biting insect these days are Bed Bugs,” says Douglen. “A person with multiple bites has not been bitten by a spider because they only bite once.”
“Homeowners should get regular inspections to determine whether there are any one of a variety of insect pests present,” says Douglen, “and this is particularly important with regard to termite and Carpenter Ant infestations.”
Spring Season & Termites
When Spring Arrives NJ Homeowners May Discover Termites. Don’t Panic. They’ve Been There for Years
“It’s an annual ritual of spring,” says Leonard Douglen, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. “Along with the warm weather, thousands of homeowners will discover that they have been playing host to colonies of termites.”
“In the springtime the most visible evidence of a termite infestation are the winged “elates”, those termites whose job it is to start new colonies. This mating flight of hundreds and, in some cases, thousands, usually lasts from three to five days.”
The presence inside a home of winged swarmers, usually gathering around windows as sunlight streams in, is a guaranteed sign that the structure has a termite colony.
Estimates of the nationwide cost of the damage termites do every year range between five and six billion dollars.
Several species of termites are native to New Jersey and the tri-state area. “By far the Subterranean termite species pose the greatest problem,” says Douglen, “because they are the most difficult to control and their nest may be below ground.”
The most visible sign of an infestation are the mud tunnels termites build to access a structure, often against a foundation or pier post, and frequently visible in basement void areas under porches and other parts of the home.
The Eastern Subterranean Termite is among the most common in the tri-state area. Homeowners are advised to eliminate any water leaks in the roof and other areas, and inspect the system of gutters that keep water away from wooden surfaces. Crawl spaces in attics or basements should be kept dry through ventilation or vapor barriers. “It is essential to eliminate all wood-to-soil contact,” says Douglen, “and to avoid having mulch against the structure.”
Based on normal feeding activity, it can take from three to eight years for a termite colony to do serious damage to any structure. Experts believe that, under ideal conditions, a termite colony of 60,000 workers will consume one foot of a 2-inch by 4-inch pine word in 118 to 157 days. Termites eat wood, flooring, sheetrock, wallpaper, plastics, paper products, and fabric made of plant fibers.
“One of the best investments homeowners can make,” says Douglen, “is an annual termite inspection by a certified, trained pest management technician to identify such potential points of infestation.” The bad news is that a colony of hundreds of thousands of termites may operate in different locations throughout a structure.
Choose Termite Inspectors Carefully
“Homeowners need to be aware that New Jersey allows anyone, even someone without any previous knowledge or training of any kind, to perform a wood destroying insect inspection,” said Douglen. “It is essential to know that the person hired to inspect has the proper credentials and training to insure that, if a termite colony exists and that he can find it.”
The New Jersey Pest Management Association has, for many years, a training course for its members and others who wish to become inspectors. On successful completion of the course, the Association issues a certificate granting the status of Credentialed Wood Destroying Insect Inspector.
An untrained inspector or one lacking sufficient training can easily miss the signs of an infestation. Termite infestations go unnoticed because, though eating wood throughout a structure, termites rarely break through the surface areas of the wood, leaving it intact.
Douglen notes that people sometimes think the swarming termite alates, the winged reproductive class, are winged ants because “ants and termite swarmers not only look similar, but they come out at the same time, either to expand their colonies or to start a new satellite one.”
The termite swarmer is drawn to any light source such as a window or where the sun is shining on a wall. The usually drop their wings. “A termite has a straight body compared to an ant which has a pinched waist. The termite’s antennae are straight while ants have an elbowed antennae.”
Douglen recommends gathering a few samples of the winged insects and seal them in a plastic envelope such as a sandwich bag. Then call a pest control firm. “They will send a technician who has been trained to identify various insect species.”
Pest control professionals recommend that you vacuum the uninvited winged invaders, but expect to have to repeat the process for several days. Mother Nature always deals in massive numbers.
“Pest management professionals have the licensing and certification, and the training to provide the best protection and to eliminate an existing termite infestation,” says Douglen. “This is definitely not a do-it-yourself project.”
Founded in 1941, the New Jersey Pest Management Association is affiliated with the National Pest Control Association. The NJPMA maintains a website at www.njpestcontrol.com/nj. The website provides a library of information for visitors seeking information on pest species and a directory of member firms.
Read More on Viking Pest Control's Termite Services. Click Here
2013 NJ Pest List
The Large List of Pests New Jerseyans Will Encounter in 2013.
“Death and taxes are predictable, but Nature is predictable as well in the form of the many insect and rodent species that attack property and spread disease,” says Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. “The Handbook of Pest Control by Arnold Mallis is an encyclopedic collection of information about pests that exceeds 1,100 pages.”
“When people think about pest control for their homes, apartments, offices and other facilities, they often begin with cockroaches,” says Douglen, “and there are a number of cockroach species common to the tri-state area. They are famed for spreading many diseases associated with food poisoning such as salmonella, but they also are known to transmit pneumonia and typhoid, are a cause for allergies, and afflict those with asthma.”
Cockroaches have been around for millions of years, reproduce at amazing rates, and pose particular problems for food establishments, hospitals, hotels and similar enterprises. “In recent years bed bugs have risen to the top of the list of people’s concerns,” says Douglen, “and the pest control profession has rapidly developed a number of techniques to find and exterminate them wherever they occur.”
“By far, the most costly among the insect species that afflict people are termites,” says Douglen, “costing millions every year for the damage they do to homes and other structures. Coming in a close second are carpenter ants because an entire colony numbering several thousand can move into a home overnight and begin to destroy parts of it. Both species are often at work for several years before their presence is noted.” Lessor known species of beetles cause damage as well.
“Though they don’t make headlines,” says Douglen, “various species of moths damage clothes, carpets, and other textiles, as well as invade pantries. Some beetle species rival moths for the damage they do. “Spiders loom large in people’s imaginations and there are some 35,000 species of spiders worldwide, but other than being scary, they do not pose much of a threat to humans.”
In New Jersey, home to many deer, the spread of Lyme Disease has been caused by a common parasite, ticks, but they are also known vectors of encephalitis, tularemia, and typhus.
There are many tick species and pet owners are familiar with dog ticks. Often mistaken for ticks are mites and gnats. Stinging insects such as wasps and Yellow Jackets pose a well-known problem, especially when their nests are disturbed. “People should call on pest control professionals to remove their nests because a do-it-yourself approach can result in multiple painful stings.”
“New Jerseyans share their suburbs with a wide variety of vertebrate pest species that include mice, rats, and voles. Squirrels can pose problems for homeowners, as do raccoons and opossum that can get into chimneys unless they have a protective device,” says Douglen. “Bats, too, have been known to invade attics and require particular care to remove as their guano can cause respiratory problems.”
While acknowledging that pest control professionals do not address the problems of larger animal species, Douglen noted that, “In recent years there has been a greater awareness of the state’s growing population of coyotes that will attack pets. Bears, too, require homeowners in more rural areas to take care to install tamper-proof garbage containers. Businesses that use dumpsters need comparable protection, The deer population poses problems in the form of auto accidents, eating ornamental foliage, and the ecological damage they do as in the case of the South Mountain reservation where culling has been necessary to ensure new tree growth.”
“Pest control professionals are on the front lines of defense against the many insect, rodent, bird and animal species that represent problems of property damage and disease,” says Douglen, “and the public should know that they are licensed and certified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. They undergo continued training throughout each year?’
The New Jersey Pest Management Association was founded in 1941 and is affiliated with the National Pest Management Association. It provides its members with seminars on a variety of pest issues and it maintains an Internet website at www.njpma.com that provides a list of its member firms throughout the state.
Overwintering Pest Protection
Why Choose Viking’s Overwintering Pest Protection Over “Store Bought” Stink Bug Traps?
Most traps by manufacturers label only have an attractant that spreads out approximately 20 feet. It would take many traps to properly protect your home and you may never reach the roofline area. Viking protects the entire home with a residual from the roofline down that lasts on average 60 days and VOPP plans are backed by our service agreement.
Most homes would require 6 – 10 traps for minimum protection and require the purchase of costly pheromone refills… not to mention your valuable time spent installing and refilling- all with no service agreement. Viking has a fixed cost with a 365 day service agreement backed by a professional licensed staff.
There is no proven track record for these traps in fact early reviews of the stink bug traps have been disappointing. In our experience with other pests such Japanese beetles we have witnessed negative effects caused by the attractant of the pheromones. Some studies show attractants can bring more pests to your home and cause more harm than good. Currently there are no traps being sold to professional pest control companies. Viking is a leader in stink bug control and has a large base of satisfied customers.
Vikings provides you with a team of professionals available in person and via the phone for all of your questions and concerns.