In Defense of Spiders

A cobweb spider dispatches some prey that got snagged in its web. Image via Matt Bertone.

I’m going to say something that goes against every instinct you have — don’t kill that spider.

I know how some people feel about bugs in general, and spiders in particular. They’re creepy (lots of legs and fangs) and can be pests. Many people are downright afraid of them; fear of spiders is arachnophobia (in 1990, it was even a movie title). Even if you don’t see them, there’s an excellent chance they’re somewhere in your home.

But there is another side to this coin — spiders are a valuable part of the ecosystem, and that includes indoors. Some species seem to prefer indoors; they are usually neither aggressive nor dangerous and would rather avoid us. What’s more, spider bites are extremely rare, even considering species like widow spiders and recluses. And they eat other pesky bugs, including mosquitos and other spiders.

So they aren’t that dangerous and perform an important service. If you really can’t stand living with them, just try capturing and releasing them outside. That would be better for everyone.

Taken from “A Case Against Killing Spiders” by Matt Bertone, North Carolina State University (

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