Arachnophobes beware – those webs you’re seeing aren’t just early Halloween decorations. It’s mating season for spiders.
Born with all different shapes, sizes and colors, these bugs give many people creepy crawlies. As a result, not too many are willing to share their home with the eight-legged guests. In the fall, it seems the number of how many you find in your home seems to dramatically increase. But before you reach for that can of Raid, Anne Danielson-Francois, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, explained that the influx of spider sightings is just an illusion.
“There’s this misguided perception that all of a sudden there are many more spiders than there used to be but, you know, that’s not the case. They’re just more noticeable because the males are moving around,” Danielson-Francois reported.
While there’s no specific spider season, the critters do tend to become more noticeable in September through October. Just in time for spooky season. However, as the University of Michigan-Dearborn professor clarified, there’s no actual correlation between arachnids’ mating season and Halloween.
Still, the creepy-crawlers do seem to be more frantic inside and around homes once the leaves start to turn color.
Spiders’ Mating Behaviors Explain Increase in Sightings
According to Jason Dunlop, a researcher from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, spiders begin to mature in spring and summer. So, once fall comes around, they’re ready to mate. Rather than meeting each other over a couple of drinks, the female spins her web with precision. Then she waits patiently for her male caller. This way, she can conserve her energy and feed to be able to lay her eggs.
“Females give off a chemical called a pheromone, a kind of perfume, which the males can sense with special hairs on their legs. The wandering males are basically sniffing around for a mature female,” Dunlop shared with USA Today.
These pheromone-driven males have also given up on finding food. Mating takes over as the only priority in the male’s life, and they won’t stop searching until they find a willing partner.
“That’s what he will keep doing for the remainder of his life, which at that point is going to be relatively short because when you’re not foraging for prey, you will eventually starve,” said Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at The Burke Museum at the University of Washington.
Just because these spiders enter the home, though, that doesn’t mean they’re looking to become permanent roommates.
“People shouldn’t panic and call a pest control agency,” Danielson-Francois advised. “They’re not interested in setting up shop in the house.”
Instead, Danielson-Francois asked homeowners to consider spiders’ capability to be their own type of pest control, eating all kinds of nuisance bugs like mosquitoes and flies.
“I advocate for people getting to know them, and becoming less afraid of them and keeping them around, but I realized that’s a stretch,” she said.