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It’s Spider Season In Chicago Once Again

As summer ends and temperatures drop, you're likely to see more spiders around.

Seeing more spiders lately? You're not alone.
Alan Myers/Flickr
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Portions of this story were originally published in 2019.

CHICAGO — If you’ve been noticing more spiders in and around your house lately, you’re not alone: Spider season is upon us once again.

As summer dwindles and temperatures drop in Chicago, it’s common for the eight-legged creatures to start creeping into people’s homes, said Dylan Johnson, a sales representative at Creative Eco Pest Service.

Though they may strike fear in some, spiders are good for the environment as they “tend to feed on other pests, so they will keep other bug populations down,” he said.

“Their webs will catch gnats and some mosquitoes and other bugs that we don’t like around,” Johnson said.

Wolf spiders are common in Chicago, according to Allen Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. They’re gray or brown, a bit fuzzy and can be as big as 10 centimeters (or as small as just a few millimeters).

They have three rows of dark eyes — and you should be careful around them because female wolf spiders carry their eggs on their backs.

“You don’t generally want to squash them because they carry their babies on their backs. So what happens sometimes is if you step on a wolf spider, all the babies go scattering to all different places, and it ends up causing a worse problem,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty gross.”

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.

You also may come across gray cross spiders, also called bridge spiders, which 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.

To minimize spiders in homes, residents are advised to seal any cracks in windows and doors.

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.

Johnson said using “a ball of toilet paper and kind of grab it in there, keep ’em a little protected from the pinch” will also work.

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