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Creepy Crawlies Can Survive Through Winter


Spiders have always been a pest problem in Lori Johnson-Salata's south Forsyth County subdivision. She has spotted the harmless ones, dangerous kinds and has come into close contact with venomous spiders. "I was bit by a brown recluse [spider that carries a venomous bite] two years ago while kneeling in a mulch-filled flower bed," Johnson-Salata said. "We also had a black widow last spring in our mailbox." She had to have the exterminator out to kill the black widow and any eggs laid in the crevices of her mailbox.

Gary McClung, owner of Got Bugs? Termite and Pest Solutions in south Forsyth County said this time of year, the weather starts cooling off and should help lower the amount of pests, but in Georgia, the weather doesn't typically get cold enough to kill off spiders and other critters like in Northern states. "Bugs will migrate to a person's home and try to survive the winter," McClung said. Along with spiders, McClung said he handles calls about ladybugs, ants and mice moving indoor for the winter. "The No. 1 pest year-round is ants, and spiders are always in the top two or three," McClung said. But spiders are one of the most difficult to kill, he said. "They don't transfer the product through their appendages; their body if you will, you have to hit the spider with the product," McClung said. McClung recommends good housekeeping, vacuuming the corners of rooms and moving the furniture around in rooms that are rarely used. Physically knocking down the spider webs also helps, in addition to reducing their food source. Because bugs are attracted to light, keep the lights off at night or change the bulbs to incandescent lights. In addition, weatherproofing windows and doors will lower energy costs and help with pest control.

Michael Wheeler, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Hall County, said he is kept busy with spiders. "Sometimes folks will come in with a specimen and they want us to identify it, and the next question is how we can get rid of these guys," Wheeler said. "We go through a checklist to make sure they haven't left the doors open or the windows open and there are good seals around their windows and doors." Wheeler recommends people use home sprays that are diluted and safe for indoors, if they want to spray in the home. Outside, he said, spray around the home's perimeter or spread a granular product that contains insecticide in it to build a chemical barrier around the home. Pulling up the mulch around the home is also helpful in getting rid of scorpions and spiders, Wheeler said. "We don't have harsh enough winters, but these insects have adapted to our climate and they anticipate what kind of winter and summer we are going to have," Wheeler said. "They have adjusted. They have defense mechanisms; they will go into a dormant state and complete their life cycle." The most common spiders in Georgia are barn spiders and the yellow garden spiders, which can be like most spiders generally harmless, Wheeler said. "Usually they are pretty docile," Wheeler said. "They don't want to be messed with and if you leave them alone, they will be happy with that. Just leaving them alone."

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