Everyone has seen them – the wispy clusters in the corners by the ceiling, behind furniture, and around electrical cords running around the wall. What are cobwebs, where do they come from, how are they made, and when are they most likely to appear? Most importantly, which method is best for getting rid of them?
Most types of cobwebs are actually formed from abandoned spider webs. Home-abandoning spiders mostly belong to the species Theridiidae, which is well known for building sticky, disorganized webs in corners for catching prey. They also use their silk to form cocoons which can house hundreds of baby spiders.
When the spider abandons a web, it’s normally because dust has already begun to collect, dampening the vibrations that let a spider know when a fly or mosquito has become trapped. After the spider moves on, more dust starts to stick to the web, and the end result is a raggedy, grey, dusty looking clump that wisps may fly off of if a draft gets too close.
Sometimes it’s not even a full web, but a single strand or two a spider used to get from someplace high up to somewhere lower down. The strands of spider silk are strong enough to stay hanging from the ceiling, and gather dust until they look like long ghostly tendrils waving gently in the movement of air.
You might think living in the country would mean more bugs and spiders and bigger ones at that, but a study done in Australia confirmed that urban areas actually have the biggest spiders – probably thanks to better hiding places and less predators such as birds, snakes, and so on.
If you want to live in the state with the least spiders, Hawaii would be your best bet – spiders didn’t naturally evolve there, and until it became a state, and then a tourist destination, spiders weren’t to be found there.
Places that tend to have a lot of spiders include warm states – although spiders can tolerate cold weather, they like heat better. Looking for real estate in San Jose, California? Better expect to see some cobwebs from spiders if the house hasn’t been recently swept out! You’ll also need to be careful when shopping for real estate in Dallas, Texas – the black widow is a cobweb builder, and they are populated across the state.
Getting rid of cobwebs is fairly easy – the best way is with a clean cotton cloth wrapped around a small broom to reach high corners and ceilings, and you can use a duster to sweep behind items on mantles and elsewhere that dust collects.
Be wary when reaching into small dark spaces to clear out cobwebs. There could be a newer spider web with an inhabitant. Only a few spiders are truly poisonous (in the US, the black widow and the brown recluse are the two to fear), but spider bites commonly become infected and require extra treatment.
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