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It is estimated that only around 1,000 arthropod species can be considered serious pests, and no more than 10,000 arthropod species can be considered minor pests or occasional indoor invaders. Arthropods that are considered serious pests include species that inflict economically costly property damage, pose a medical threat to humans, and/or have an ecologically harmful impact on natural environments outside of their native range. Minor arthropod pests include species that are considered undesirable because of their disturbing appearance, annoying behaviors and/or for their occasional tendency to wander into homes, often inadvertently.

Some serious arthropod pests that commonly infest Massachusetts homes include subterranean termites, carpenter ants, wood-boring beetles, wasps, cockroaches, filth flies, pantry moths and beetles, carpet beetles and bed bugs. Minor pests that occasionally appear within Massachusetts homes include boxelder bugs, house centipedes, silverfish, ground beetles, Asian lady beetles, and millipedes. Most of the spider species that are known for invading homes in the country are categorized as minor pests solely because their appearance arouses fear in many people. Arthropod species that are not well tolerated indoors due to their unsettling appearance are commonly referred to as “aesthetic pests,” and this term is almost always used in reference to large spiders that are occasionally found indoors.

The most commonly encountered indoor spider pests in Massachusetts are small American house spiders, cellar spiders and cobweb weavers. The only serious spider pest found in Massachusetts is the northern black widow, and while this species is known to live in close association with humans, they are not prevalent in the northeast. However, the highly aggressive yellow sac spider is frequently found within Massachusetts homes where they have been known to inflict medically significant bites to humans without provocation. Many people would agree that large and hairy wolf spiders are the most aesthetically displeasing spider pests that are often found in Massachusetts homes, but the similar looking Parson spider can give them a run for their money. Luckily, wolf spiders are harmless to humans, they do not build nuisance webs, and they are rarely found in large numbers within homes. However, the tarantula-like appearance of wolf spiders make them the most commonly controlled spider pests within US homes.

Have you ever sustained a spider bite within your home?