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Spiders are our friends

Whether you are outside tending your garden or are inside your home, spiders are commonly seen everywhere now. People have different reasons for asking questions about spiders. Some are curious by what kind of spider they have found. Others are concerned they may be pests or even think they may have encountered a dangerous spider.
A dark fishing spider.  Despite its
large size, it is not dangerous spider.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, UM Extension

Can spiders be dangerous?

First the good news, we do not have any dangerous spiders in Minnesota. While it is true that a black widow or a brown recluse can be accidentally transported into Minnesota, this is a very rare occurrence and neither is a native spider. Any spider you see is almost certainly a native Minnesota spider.

Most spiders are not capable of biting us; their chelicerae (fangs) are too small and weak to penetrate human skin. Spiders are also not aggressive. For those spiders that can potentially bite us, they are not interested to do so. Their instinct is to flee from and avoid people. If they feel threatened, they can bite to protect themselves. Most spider bites hurt no worse than a mild bee sting.

Why are spiders good? 

But wait, there is more good news. Spiders are very beneficial because they eat large numbers of insects, including many pests. If not for spiders in natural habitats, our gardens and yards, and in agriculture, spiders would likely overwhelm us.

Spiders are also fascinating creatures to watch and observe. They exhibit many interesting behaviors, like their ability to produce silk. Some are colorful and very photogenic.

Can spiders be pests?

A sac spider, a common indoor spider.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, UM Extension

Are spiders pests? Sometimes. People may not like them in their homes, especially if they are numerous. Some people don’t like spiders or even are afraid of them. However, on balance, spiders are much more beneficial than they are pests. Next time you see a spider, remember that it is uninterested in you but loves the insects in your garden and home.

For information, see University of Minnesota Extension’s Spiders.

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

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