My garden is infested with what I believe are burrowing wolf spiders. I know that they are not dangerous, but there are a LOT of them and they scare me and keep me from getting my gardening done. Is there a safe way to get rid of them?



As you know spiders are beneficial insects.  They help to keep the insect population in check.  Even though they are not viewed as harmful pests to humans they can be very intimidating, especially when there are a lot of them.  The good news is that the vast majority of spiders are much more likely to retreat from you and avoid human contact if at all possible.  Biting is only a last resort and is a defense used when they feel threatened or they are continually provoked.  While all spiders produce venom there are only two small groups of spiders that are poisonous to humans.  They are the widow group, the most famous member being the Black Widow and the recluse (or violin spiders) group which includes the Brown Recluse.  Properly identifying the spider in your yard will help you in making decisions regarding control methods.  The Utah Pests webpage http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm/ has a lot of information on spiders, including pictures that can help you to identify the spider in your yard.  Another option is to bring a specimen in to the USU Extension Offices at 2001 S. State Street for identification.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.


If the spider in your yard is a Wolf spider they are not aggressive and are fairly innocuous.  A bite may cause some itching and some redness. Wolf spiders are most commonly found under rocks or debris and often will live around water but will adapt to most any landscape.  To minimize your risk of being bitten when working outside you could wear a long sleeved shirt and pants. 


Trying to control outdoor spider populations is not usually reccommended unless there are an excessively high number of individuals.  There are chemical pesticides that can be purchased that work on spiders.  If you do choose to use a chmeical pesticide choose onethat can be applied dry or in the form of a suspension (rather than a solution or emulsion). They are more effective against spiders because the active ingredient tends to remain on the treated surface rather than soak into it.  Make sure that you select a pesticide that is specific to the type of spider you are trying to control and read and follow all of the directions carefully.  A non-chemical method of control would be the use of commercial sticky traps placed in a protected area where you have seen spiders.  If you have an especially high spider population it is very likely that you also have a high insect population that they are feeding on so you may get better results with trying to reduce the insect population which will in turn reduce the spider population.


For more information on spiders and control methods:  http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/30.pdf


If you have any more questions please feel free to contact our office. 


Precautionary Statement: All pesticides have benefits and risks, however following the label will maximize the benefits and reduce risks. Pay attention to the directions for use and follow precautionary statements. Pesticide labels are considered legal documents containing instructions and limitations. Inconsistent use of the product or disregarding the label is a violation of both federal and state laws. The pesticide applicator is legally responsible for proper use.

Posted on 10 Oct 2007

Heidi Wayman
Horticulture Intern, Salt Lake County

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