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As seasons change, spiders come crawling

These are the lazy, hazy spider days of autumn.

Walk through the garden at night or early morning, and their webs cling to your face and clothes. Some creep into our houses and garages.

"With the change of season, people are seeing them come in and tend to think of them as worse than before but really, we are not seeing a huge influx this year," said Denise Dias a Sedgwick County Extension agent who specializes in home environments.

It's time for the orb weavers, the big yellow-and-black spiders who weave webs in open fields and flower gardens.

And it's time for wolf spiders, tarantulas, brown recluses and black widows.

You normally don't see spiders during the day. They come out at night to feed and seek warmth.

"With cooler evenings and dew and mist, their webs are easier to see," said Schanee Anderson, curator of education at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Most are harmless, but the brown recluse and black widow are poisonous.

Black widows tend to stay outdoors in wooded areas or the dark, cluttered corners of your garage.

The brown recluse is more common in the Wichita area.

Normally, they will leave you alone.

But if you have an infestation, some may crawl up the legs of your beds and into your comforters, nestling near soft body parts. When you flinch, they flinch. When a spider bites, it uses fangs to pierce the skin and deliver venom.

The bites of the black widow and brown recluse can injure blood vessels and stop blood flow to an area.

"If I find brown recluses in my home, I will kill them," said Jim Mason naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center. "I respect them for what they are. But they have a very venomous bite that can cause serious skin lesions and permanent scarring. If you are around stuff that hasn't been moved for a while, you need to be watching for them. Use caution. Don't stick your hand into places you can't see."

Tarantulas also are on the move as the fall mating season progresses. They can sometimes be seen crossing isolated country roads at night. Look for them in Kansas near the Oklahoma state line.

Mason said the best advice for keeping spiders out of house and yard is to eliminate clutter.

Spiders look for places to hide. Outdoors they lurk in wood piles, leaves and garages. Indoors, they look for clothing, shoes and basements.

"Don't leave clothes on your floor," Mason said. "Eliminate clutter."

Look for glue traps, sticky tape that's flat and can be placed along edges of rooms and other places where spiders can hide.

"Spiders will get stuck in them and you can dispose of them," Mason said. "You do not have to introduce toxins into your home."

And remember, spiders can be beneficial.

Wolf and grass spiders eat brown recluses — so it's good to have them in your yard. Without spiders, we would have more mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and crickets.

"They are our first line of control when it comes to other insects on the planet," Mason said. "They are the most numerous type of predatory animal on Earth. Without them, we would be neck deep in insects."

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