Nearly every call/email/text we get about spiders contains the same question: Is it venomous/dangerous?
This question is not easy to answer. With more than 45,000 species of spiders worldwide, identification can be challenging. Most entomologists are not trained to identify spiders — and finding a spider specialist can be daunting.
Luckily, in the United States, there are only a handful of medically important spiders. Learning how to properly identify this smaller number of significant spiders, then, can simplify the process.
Start by learning three morphological (body) characteristics for each of the medically important spiders. Don’t rely on color or shape alone.
For example, the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) has only six eyes, arranged in a very specific pattern. You’ve already learned two important characteristics by knowing these facts. This information also can diffuse a situation with a customer, because you can confidently calm their fears of a structure infested by dangerous spiders.
With every pest situation, knowledge is power — and spiders are no different.