Spring cleaning usually involves destroying pesky cobwebs, but this evidence of busy household spiders should not really cause concern. The majority of spiders are harmless and their venom is not toxic to humans. If bitten, you may experience a slight itching sensation with minimal inflammation. Many spiders cannot even break the skin with their small fangs. Spiders tend to do more good than harm; they eliminate mites, flies, crickets, and other small insects. Three common household spiders are the funnel web spider, jumping spider, and cobweb spider.
Funnel Web Spiders
Funnel web spiders--or house spiders, as they are more commonly called--are usually a shiny brown color. They are a larger species and can grow over 1/2 inch long. Funnel web spiders are harmless and their bite is rarely toxic. They construct horizontal webs in the shape of a funnel out of non-sticky silk. The spider hides in the shorter end of the funnel and runs out to attack when it feels the vibration of an insect caught in its web. You may come upon them weaving their webs at night, since sudden lights do not disturb them. In the past, doctors used their webs to stop bleeding in human wounds.
The jumping spider is normally dark in color with red or orange spots on its abdomen, similar to the male black widow spider. They range in size from 1/5 to 1/2 inch long and have hairy bodies. Jumping spiders have short legs and eight eyes. Two of the eyes are quite large and account for their excellent vision. This species of spider is active during the day and enjoys sunshine. Usually found in window sills or doorways, jumping spiders possess the ability to leap several times their own length when attacking their prey.
The most common indoor spider is the cobweb spider. It is relatively small, growing to 1/3 inch in length. They are gray or brown with white stripes on the tip of their abdomen. The cobweb spider resides in areas of high humidity with an abundance of small insects to prey upon. They can be found in cellars, outbuildings, and damp basements. Male cobweb spiders are active during the night, searching out females. Most families find this species a pest because of its web building habits. Cobweb spiders construct several different webs to attract prey. Uninhabited webs collect dust because of their sticky outer layers.