Do you like spiders? Your answer is probably "no", possibly "__ no" (fill in the blank with your favorite expletive.) That's a pretty normal response. In fact, arachnophobia - the fear of spiders - is one of the most common animal-specific phobias, affecting about 3-6% of the general population.

Warning: The pictures in the article below will be triggering for arachnophobes. Reading mode may be advisable.

Some spiders are welcome guests in the home.

The rest of us, at least, don't mind spiders. Some of us even welcome them in our homes, respectfully. That might sound crazy to you, but most house spiders are wonderful guests. Associate Professor Anne Danielson-Francois at the University of Michigan-Dearborn notes that spiders can kill common household pests, plus potentially harmful bugs like bed bugs and mosquitoes. She says, "Spiders are giving you natural pest control."

Which spiders in Washington aren't welcome?

Washington has very few spiders that are considered dangerous to humans. In fact, there are only two species found in the state that the Washington Department of Health considers "medically significant." Before you decide to let a spider stay in your home, make sure it's not one of these two.

Black widow spider.
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The black widow spider.

For many, the black widow is the first "dangerous" spider that comes to mind. The spider has a bulbous body marked with an hourglass-like symbol in red along the abdomen. These spiders prefer dark, dry, warm areas, and they move very quickly when alerted.

Growing up in southern California, I saw these all the time around my house and was always afraid of them. It's for good reason: Healthline notes that a black widow bite can lead to pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, changes in blood pressure, and fever. For vulnerable people, those bites can also lead to seizures and death. That said, less than 10 people a year die from black widow bites, making bee stings more deadly.

Yellow sac spider
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The yellow sac spider.

Yellow sac spiders are found world wide, but the ones in the Pacific Northwest tend to be a distinguishable bright yellow color as seen above, often with a stripe along their abdomen. They prefer vegetation and overgrowth, but within a house will set up their tunnel webs inside shoes and clothes. In Washington, they're primarily found on the east side of the Cascades - and Seattle.

The yellow sac spider is less dangerous than the black widow. Its bites tend to cause large bumps or wounds that take weeks to heal. Sometimes pain and nausea can accompany the initial bite. The main concern is to make sure the wound is properly treated, as they can lead to infections and necrosis.

 

Now that you know which spiders to avoid entirely, why not learn how to avoid spider bites from even the less harmful spiders in your area?

Tips to Prevent Spider Bites

No one likes to get bug bites, especially from spiders. After all, we're told from a young age that some spiders are deadly. Besides that, they can be uncomfortable and swell up.

But there are ways to help prevent yourself from getting bit in the first place. Here are ten tips from the Washington State Department of Health.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

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