In Praise of … Spiders?

What if I told you that spiders, those universally reviled members of the bug world, are really valuable and should be protected?

Matt Bertone, Extension Associate in Entomology at North Carolina University, makes that point in “A Case Against Killing Spiders” ( http://earthsky.org/earth/case-against-killing-spiders? ).  He says spiders are important to both indoor and outdoor ecosystems. What’s more, some types actually enjoy the indoors.  During a visual survey of 50 North Carolina homes, Mr. Betrone and his colleagues found spiders in every one.

If you don’t like spiders, it’s perfectly normal to fear something with that many legs.  Plus almost all are venomous, though the venom in the majority of species is too weak to hurt us.  In fact, they prefer to avoid humans, and spider bites are extremely rare.  Although a few medically important species, like widow spiders and recluses, are around, even their bites rarely cause serious issues.

As predators, spiders don’t discriminate, eating anything they can catch.  But their real value is in capturing nuisance pests and disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes. There’s even a species of jumping spider that eats blood-filled mosquitoes in African homes.

Still not convinced?  That’s okay, but it’s far better to capture and release a spider outside.  You’ll both be happier.

The photo is from the website referenced above.

 

 

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