Kelowna News

Damp summer in B.C. Interior created a spidery paradise

A western black widow spider is pictured in this submitted photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Stuart Brown

If it seemed like there were a lot more spiders lurking about this summer, you’re not going buggy.

The mild winter and damper days of July and August changed life in the Okanagan and Kamloops, starting from the creatures crawling around on the ground all the way up to the things that feed on them — like rodents, birds and snakes.

“It’s been a good year for everything,” Stuart Brown, of Vernon’s Bug Guys, said. “It is definitely more noticeable with spiders. Arachnids and insects, in general, thrive in humid and moist environments.”

If you look at the tropics, for example, the buggiest time of year is February, which is the rainy season.

If you’re worried that the number of spiderwebs laced around the entrance to your house may be the new normal, however, don’t.

“When there’s more of anything, like invertebrates, nature balances it out,” Brown said. “Plenty of food means plenty of prey.”

It’s a veritable smorgasbord for spider prey, too. 

“We have a good, couple hundred species of spiders here in the Okanagan,” Brown said.

“The black widow is the most famous, but they’re shy. They like being around houses and things like that because they give ideal habitat.”

Once you open the door to your home, you’ll likely come across a few other leggy guests.

“Inside you would find things like giant house spiders or, more rarely, wolf spiders,” Brown said.

The giant house spider was introduced into the area from Europe and can be as big as a human palm — most of that size is in its “long and lanky” legs.

There are also orb weavers, which are the artists of the eight-legged world

“They’re the ones who build the classic Charlotte’s Web kind of web,” Brown said.

There is a lot of variety when it comes to spiders and their prey, but there’s also a lot of misconceptions, which Brown works to disabuse people of.

“People villainize spiders, scorpions and snakes, but those are animals that are really very shy.”

With spiders, few around the region have fangs that can even cause harm to humans.

The ones that do can still only cause a negligible amount of discomfort.

“The giant house spider or even the black widow could cause some damage in the skin, but their fangs aren’t large enough here to puncture muscle tissue,” he said.

Better yet, while the black widow’s venom is 15 times as potent as a rattlesnake, it can only dose you with 1/100th of the amount of a rattlesnake bite.

“For the most part you will get a decent welt that’s red or purple, but it’s not going to kill you unless you have immune deficiencies, are elderly or a toddler or allergic to bee stings,” he said, adding that bee stings are very similar to spider bites.

And, as for the infamous brown recluse spider, reports of its presence are highly overblown.

“There are tons of stories about it,” he said. “And they do range into the Okanagan very rarely, but mostly they're across the coast of the US. If they show up they’ve hitchhiked and shown up with some fruit being shipped in.”

And, as the name suggests, they’re reclusive.

“They don’t want anything to do with humans,” he said.

“Most the time when people think they’ve seen one it’s a giant house spider, but there’s a surefire way to tell. The recluse has a distinct violin shape on its thorax and head.”

So, with that in mind, take a moment to consider what you’re doing when you stomp out your next eight-legged foe. It’s less harmful than you think.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

THOMPSON: A year later COVID-19 still an imminent threat
  OPINION We’re all weary of the pandemic that has plagued us for more than a year. We’re tired of social distancing and isolating from family and friends...tired of scrubbing our hands like physicians prepp
The Chase is C.C. Jentsch's highly rated red wine blend.
Wine of the Week: The Chase from C.C. Jentsch Cellars
The B.C. wine industry lost another beloved member. News of the recent passing of Chris Jentsch of C.C. Jentsch Cellars has saddened the community. Chris and his wife Betty both grew up in the Okanagan orchard industry and eventually convert

Top News