Eight surprising reasons why spiders make the best roommates

Image credit: Erik Karits, Pixabay.

Eight surprising reasons why spiders make the best roommates

When most people find a spider in their house, their first instinct might be to reach for a shoe or a broom. However, before you evict your eight-legged roommates, consider the myriad ways they contribute positively to your living environment.

Far from being nuisances, most spiders are beneficial and harmless creatures that play crucial roles in our ecosystems, including the ones inside your home. Here's why you should roll out the welcome mat for these misunderstood arachnids, from their unparalleled pest control abilities to the tiny, adorable paws they walk on.

1. Spiders are nature's pest control agents

They feast on common household pests such as mosquitoes, flies, and roaches—providing practical, chemical-free, and eco-friendly home pest control. Imagine the work of an entire pest control service, operating silently and efficiently without the need for pesticides or traps. 

2. Spiders can reduce the spread of disease

By eating bugs like mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as malaria and Zika virus, spiders help reduce the spread of these diseases.

3. They eat a LOT of bugs

Research suggests that spiders consume an estimated 400-800 million tons of insects yearly worldwide. To put that into perspective, even a single spider can consume about 2,000 insects a year, roughly the weight of over 6,000 grains of rice—that's a lot of bugs!

4. Low-maintenance roommates

Spiders are the epitome of low-maintenance cohabitants. They don't require feeding, walking, or grooming, and they keep to themselves. While your dog might beg for walks at inconvenient times, and even your plants demand weekly waterings, spiders ask very little from their human roommates while providing around-the-clock pest control services.

Close-up photography of a spider. Image credit: © Dharmaanjan | Dreamstime

Close-up photography of a spider. Image credit: © Dharmaanjan | Dreamstime

5. Very few spiders are actually dangerous to people

Of the more than 3,700 species of spiders in the United States, only the black widow and brown recluse are considered dangerous to most people. Most spider venoms are designed for their insect prey, not humans, making them mostly ineffective on us. The few dangerous species seldom cause serious harm, with symptoms being manageable and rarely life-threatening.

6. True spider bites are extremely rare

Actual spider bites are much less common than people think. Many suspected "spider bites" are actually caused by other insects or are the result of skin infections. A study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that out of 750 cases reported as spider bites, only 44 were definitively attributed to spiders. This underscores the rarity of spider bites and the tendency to overestimate their frequency and danger.

7. Spiders are biodiversity indicators

A rich diversity of spiders signifies a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Their presence in your home can be a sign of good air quality, as spiders thrive in less polluted environments. If spiders are comfortable living in your home, it's likely a good sign that you're maintaining a healthy living space.

8. Think of them as silent guardians

Most spiders prefer to avoid humans and silently go about their business, catching pests without any need for chemicals or traps. This silent protection is especially beneficial for those looking to reduce their reliance on insecticides.

Spiders are unsung heroes of the household, offering numerous benefits with very few drawbacks. They provide a window into the complexity of nature right in your own home, with their web-building techniques and hunting strategies offering natural learning opportunities for both adults and children.

Next time you encounter one of these eight-legged creatures in your home, consider letting them be. They're not only harmless but are actually working in your favor. By coexisting with spiders, we can make our homes healthier and free from unwanted pests.

Bonus Reason #9: They have tiny paws!

Yes, spiders have tiny "paws" (technically called tarsi), and they're as adorable as they sound. These tiny appendages are crucial for their movement and hunting, adding to the many reasons to appreciate our eight-legged friends.

A collage of closeup spider paws, or tarsi.

Happy National Save a Spider Day!

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