We’ve all played host to that unwelcome house guest — you know, the one who’s obsessed with silk and is a pro at lurking in dark corners to eavesdrop. They’re also rather rude at the dinner table, preferring dead insects over the meal you worked so hard to make.
Spiders. We share the outdoors with them (sometimes begrudgingly), but we draw the line at inviting them into our homes. These eight-legged critters seem to come out of the woodwork en masse in late summer and fall — but why? We asked Josh Vlach, an entomologist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, to untangle the web of fact vs. fiction.
While you may notice more spiders right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s been a boom in their numbers. Josh said many spiders are simply getting bigger + building large enough webs to be noticed. Males are also wandering around looking for females. Later in the season, the females will seek out spots to shelter through the winter — and our homes are attractive abodes.
So many species
According to Josh, there may be approx. 500 spider species in Oregon, but most that enter our homes are actually native to Europe. An average of 10 new invertebrate species settle into Oregon every year — and one in five is a known pest (including the brown widow). See the spiders commonly found in Portland.
Knowing friend from foe
Thankfully, our part of the world isn’t home to any harmful spiders other than the black widow (which is native to Oregon but uncommon in Portland). All true widow spiders have a distinct red-to-orange hourglass on their underside, making them easy to ID. And no, we don’t have brown recluse spiders here.
To prevent visits from unwanted arachnid house guests, make sure your home is as well-sealed as possible by caulking gaps + cracks and making sure there are no gaps under doors. Keeping structures and vegetation from touching the exterior of your home will also help.