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It’s Spider Season, Chicago: As Weather Cools, Spiders Get Their Feast On (Which Is Actually A Good Thing)

No, spiders aren't going to colonize your house — though it may seem that way at the moment.

Seeing more spiders lately? You're not alone.
Alan Myers/Flickr
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DOWNTOWN — Arachnophobes, beware: Spiders are beginning to creep into Chicago homes.

It’s normal for spiders to “wander inside” once it starts to cool off outdoors, said Allen Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. And even if they’re not coming inside, they can be a bit more noticeable than normal around your home.

Don’t worry too much, though, Lawrance said.

“They’re not really gonna colonize your home,” Lawrance said. “At least for wolf spiders.”

Wolf spiders can stand out more during the end of summer because they’re fully grown and bigger, Lawrance said, and because there are more flying insects around for the spiders to feast on. More prey generally means more spiders.

Wolf spiders are common in Chicago and can be “quite large,” Lawrance said. They’re gray or brown, a bit fuzzy and can be as big as 10 centimeters (or as small as just a few millimeters).

Those spiders don’t build webs, though they can make burrows, and they’re active hunters who crawl on the ground, Lawrance said.

And there are gray cross spiders, also called bridge spiders, who are “really big, conspicuous orb weaver[s],” Lawrance said. They’re most common by water because they feed on insects that live in water like mosquitoes and gnats or midges.

Gray cross spiders can be found even on high rises and balconies because they’re good climbers. Their special talent: They can “balloon,” or release silk behind them that gets caught in the wind and carries them through the air, Lawrance said.

Orb weavers are also attracted to light, spinning their webs around porch lights so they can catch the insects that congregate there.

“If they spook you out a little bit … turn off your light at night when you’re no longer outside,” Lawrance said.

And if you spot a spider, try not to freak out: They are beneficial since they eat pests you wouldn’t want in your home, Lawrance said. Instead, he suggested people place a cup over the spider, slide a piece of paper underneath and use that to carry the spider outside.

If you’re trying to keep out spiders and other bugs, seal up cracks that lead to the outside, like the gaps around your door, Lawrance said. It also helps to make sure windows are sealed “nice and tight,” he said.

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