While Washington State doesn’t have the same reputation for gigantic or deadly spiders as other parts of the country do, that doesn’t mean there aren’t quite a few spiders up here! Many people within the Puget Sound know August and September as “spider season.” During this time, it seems like spiders are coming from everywhere, scurrying across floors, and making homeowners incredibly nervous.
Many of these spiders often appear quite similar, as you see them year after year. That’s true! There are quite a few common spiders in the pacific northwest. Let’s look at the five most common spiders in Washington State, and then look at what you can do to eliminate them!
Giant House Spider
Found indoors primarily, the giant house spider (Eratigena atrica) is one of the most common spiders here in Washington State. These spiders can grow to be up to four inches long, and people frequently find them in garages and basements. While they may look spooky, these spiders are quite harmless and can be beneficial. They keep the population of other insects, like roaches, mosquitoes, and other bugs down. You’ll often see these spiders emerging towards the end of the summer when they are fully grown.
People frequently mistake the hobo spider (Eratigena agrestis) for the dreaded brown recluse, but they are very different from one another. For starters, the hobo spider is not dangerous to humans, even though some old literature suggested that it could be. Second, hobo spiders like to build their webs in cool, dark places. People frequently find these arachnids in basements. When their prey hits the web they’ve made, it vibrates, and the hobo spider comes out to snatch it. These spiders grow to be about 1-1.5 inches long.
The funnel weaver (Tegenaria domestica) is another common spider in Washington State. Like the other spiders so far on this list, this one is mostly harmless. People often mistake it for the common house spider or the hobo spider. The only visual difference is that this spider has striped legs, whereas the other ones have solid colors on the legs. They’re brown in color and measure approximately 1-1.5 inches. The name comes from the distinctive funnel-shaped webs they weave.
The jumping spider (Family Salticidae) is one of the most common ones throughout all of Washington State. These are tiny spiders, measuring approximately 0.5 inches in length, but they can jump quite a distance – up to six times the range of their bodies! You’ll frequently find these around window sills and near cracks in the door, due to the likelihood of insects being there. If you catch something out of the corner of your eye jumping, there’s a good chance you have a jumping spider hunting for some prey.
Yellow Sac Spider
The sac spider (Trachelas spp.) receives its name because it has a bulbous body (which makes it look like it is carrying a sac). Typically, people see these spiders outdoors in eastern Washington State, but as the weather becomes colder, these spiders find more comfortable temperatures in your warm, cozy home. These spiders are not passive, like the other ones on this list. They actively look for their prey and try to kill it.
A sac spider bite will not kill you, but it will be excruciating. Many times, these spiders will be lurking in some part of your home, like your sheets or your laundry. Once you disturb them, they feel threatened and attempt to protect themselves by biting you. Again, if you’re bitten by one, it will hurt. However, it’s unlikely to cause any real damage.
Honorable Mention: Black Widow Spiders
Many residents of Washington State may be surprised to learn that there are populations of black widow spiders (Family Latrodectus) throughout the state. These spiders are not typical and tend to be found more in eastern Washington than Seattle, but they do exist. They tend to hang out in warmer areas and away from people. They only bite out of self-defense. Therefore, it’s good to know what these spiders can do as well as how to identify them if one attacks you.
Despite the reputation, most of the time, black widow bites are not life-threatening. They hurt, but you will recover. Young children are the exception to this rule, however. In younger children, black widow bites can be fatal, so you should get them to the ER doctor right away if you suspect one of these spiders bit your child. You can identify black widows by their characteristic black appearance and the hourglass underside.
Brown Recluses Do Not Live In Washington
When people hear the term “black widow,” they often think of another venomous spider whose bite can be excruciating and can result in a medical emergency – the brown recluse. These spiders do not live in Washington State, so if you see a spider that looks like it (and since many spiders are brown, many of them do), you needn’t fear it’s a brown recluse.
Getting Rid of These Most Common Spiders in Washington State
Much like other parts of the world, many spiders live amongst us here in Washington. Fortunately, most of them are harmless. Some of them are beneficial in the sense that they keep the population of other insects down.
However, people seldom want to live in a home with spiders. Having bountiful spiders is usually a symptom of another pest infestation (after all, those spiders need something to eat!). Therefore, if you see a large number of spiders in your home, using do-it-yourself solutions to kill the spiders typically won’t work. You might kill the arachnids, but you’ll allow another infestation problem to grow much worse.
As such, it’s best to get a professional pest management company out to your home to accurately identify the spiders and eliminate the food source as well as the spiders. By removing the food source, you’ll also ensure that the spiders won’t come back to your home. That way, you can ensure that your home will remain pest-free, and you won’t have to worry about running into these hideous creatures!