Gray widow spiders, also called house button spiders or brown widow spiders, are a venomous pest that may live inside homes. These spiders are the cousins of the more infamous black widow spiders. Here are three things you need to know about gray widow spiders.
How are gray widow spiders identified?
The appearance of gray widow spiders can vary significantly between individuals, and despite their name, they aren't gray. Their bodies can range from white to black, though most are light to medium-brown. On their legs, they have dark bands, and on their backs, they have white spots. These markings can help you distinguish them from other widow species.
On their abdomens, they have the hourglass marking that is characteristic for other widow spiders. While black widows have red hourglasses, gray widows have yellow or orange hourglasses. The presence of this hourglass is the best way to identify gray widow spiders.
If you can't get a good look at the spiders, you can also identify them by their egg sacs. Unlike other spiders, gray widows create spiky egg sacs. These eggs sacs are white and can be found near the spiders.
Why are gray widow spiders pests?
Gray widow spiders have a frightening appearance due to their resemblance to the highly-venomous black widow spiders. The presence of these spiders can be alarming to homeowners who are concerned that they're in danger, or are scared of spiders in general.
Fortunately, these spiders are much less dangerous than their cousins. According to the University of California, gray widow spiders have very toxic venom, but since they inject such a tiny amount when they bite, they're not dangerous to people. If you get bitten, the area will hurt, but you won't be in any danger.
How can you control them?
While gray widow spiders aren't dangerous, they're not welcome visitors in many people's homes: more than one-quarter of Americans report being scared of spiders. If you're one of them, there are many things you can do to get rid of the gray widow spiders. Here are some tips:
Get rid of places where gray widows can hide, like the clutter in your garage, basement or attic;
Dust and vacuum regularly, including underneath furniture, to get rid of webs and egg sacs;
Use residual insecticides to kill spiders over time;
Place spider traps beneath furniture and along walls to catch and kill them;
Hire a pest control company to spray your home's exterior and keep the spiders outside.
If you're seeing a lot of gray widow spiders inside your house, take steps to get rid of them. Contact a pest control business, such as one that offers bed bug treatments, for help.