Keep your facility out of spider webs

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Greg Baumann
Greg Baumann

 

Spiders may not be as common as ants and flies in healthcare and long-term care facilities, but their presence can pose serious problems. In a recent survey on pest control, about 10% of the Association for the Healthcare Environment members surveyed indicated that spiders are one of the hardest pests to control inside their facilities.

The good news is that only two species of spiders found in the United States are harmful to humans – the black widow and the brown recluse – but they can be found in many areas around the country, especially in the Southeast.

Then again, while not all species are harmful, any spider can be a sign of trouble inside and out of your healthcare facility. The presence of large numbers of spiders and the associated webbing inside a facility are visible evidence that an additional effort is needed to manage other pests.

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program for healthcare facilities must include the effective control of spiders. IPM takes a proactive approach that incorporates both physical and mechanical pest control methods. A successful IPM program will also address the pests that attract spiders in the first place.

Talk with a pest management provider about IPM and keep the following tips in mind to help keep spiders away from your facility.

Know your geography

Depending on your location, funnel web spiders and hunting spiders may be present indoors as spider activity picks up this fall. More often, these and other species, including the common garden spider, can be found in picnic and common areas outside. However, you can find spiders in secluded dark areas both inside and outside during any time of the year.

Spiders will enter or live on the outside of buildings wherever insects are found – almost all spiders are predators, and insects are their favorite prey. Buildings that are heavily landscaped or close to open fields, marshy areas, lakes or rivers tend to have higher populations of bugs and spiders.

Spiders can make webs that connect from plants onto your building, so it is important to eliminate and thin landscaping to create a buffer around your facility. This buffer will deter other insects from getting to your facility, which will make the area less appealing to spiders.

Spiders aren't the problem

Much like flies, when eight-legged arachnids show up in your facility, they are only a sign of a larger sanitation, maintenance or structural problem. These issues can allow other pests to enter your facility, which will attract spiders.

Seal cracks and crevices outside your building with caulk to eliminate entry points and harborage areas for insects, and seal doors and windows with weather stripping. Guard your entrances with automatic doors and mounted fans to make it even harder for pests such as flies (and spiders) from sneaking in.

Spiders like receiving areas, too. Make sure that receiving doors form a tight seal when closed and dispose of any packaging immediately. Also, inspect this packaging upon arrival and store it off the ground and away from walls — these steps give pests fewer places to hide.

Call in reinforcements

If spiders and their webs start showing up in your facility, you can mechanically remove them by vacuuming up webs, live spiders or their egg sacs. But if they persist, you'll want to bring in professional help.

Your pest control professional can provide additional recommendations, assist with the inspection and identification of spiders, and remove webs or apply treatment materials if needed.

Greg Baumann is Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. He can be reached at gbaumann@orkin.com.

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