Chances are, you react to seeing a spider in your home in one of two ways: You either let it be or kill it with fire. Of course, most people don’t prefer creepy-crawly insects getting cozy in their living room. But is killing them the best option?
Let’s get one thing straight: Believe it or not, spiders are friends way more often than they are foes. Even if they really wanted to cause you pain, very few of the 40,000 known spider species are capable of harming humans, spider expert Jo-Anne Sewlal of the University of the West Indies told National Geographic. Typically, spiders want nothing to do with you. It goes without saying, then, that spider bites are extremely rare. That’s not to say there are no dangerous spiders, though. Read up on venomous spiders in your region — like the black widow and the brown recluse — and learn to identify them, just to be safe.
North Carolina State University entomologist Matt Bertone conducted a survey of 50 North Carolina homes to see which arthropods are living under our roofs. Perhaps not shockingly, every house they visited was home to spiders. The most common were cobweb spiders and cellar spiders (often called daddy longlegs).
This finding shouldn’t scare you — it’s perfectly normal. Spiders are pretty typical members of the indoor ecosystem and can do our living spaces a lot of good. In general, they like to stay out of our way, hiding out in dark places awaiting prey. They capture and eat nuisance pests, like roaches and earwigs, and even disease-carrying insects, like mosquitoes and flies. Sometimes, they duel it out and end up killing other spiders, too. For example, our good pal the cellar spider is known to kill venomous black widows. Thanks, spider bro!