Spider webs – Art or nuisance?

Spider webs are incredible feats of engineering, but for homeowners they can be visually troubling, and difficult to get rid of for good.  

Spider webs are often considered incredible, beautiful works of nature. In fact, spiders are legendary for the materials science underlying web production, producing up to eight different types of silk for their webs. Equally though, when faced with spider webs around their homes, many clients think of them more as gross secretions that they simply do not want around, especially when dealing with species such as black house spiders and redback spiders.

Web-spinning species typically commence their web design by anchoring a strand of dragline silk and waiting for a breath of wind to blow it to a second attachment point. The outer ring and spokes are then woven. The dragline silk is three times stronger than the Kevlar in bulletproof vests, leading scientists to ponder its chemical perfection. Recently identified web proteins, responsible for this incredible strength and elasticity, are now being genetically engineered to create durable and resilient new materials for artificial human tissues, surgical sutures, and ultra-strong armour.

Black house spiders build a dense, funnel-like web, which leads to a crack or crevice where they hide. When we look at redback spiders, we observe what is referred to as a gum-footed web – a closely woven silk network with sticky catching threads that are anchored to the ground by ‘gum feet’. These are powerful webs that can even entrap and hold small lizards. The spider will then race down and attack the prey, before wrapping it in many layers of silk, like a mummy’s shroud. This rapid production of the silk webbing is enabled by the wide mouth of the redback spider’s spinnerets.


Black house spiders build a dense, funnel-like web


With spider webs so robust, they need to be physically removed by pest managers. However, it is generally recommended that treatments occur before web removal, as the webs provide an indication of treatment locations and treated webs can aid in the control process.

When it comes to the control of webbing spiders, Ensystex’s regional director, Steve Broadbent, advises the use of Maxxthor insecticide.

“Maxxthor offers a well-priced, long-term solution, with reduced callback rates for spider control. Application is important and we recommend a two-step approach. Firstly, using a low-pressure spray, apply the Maxxthor with a solid stream nozzle into any cracks and crevices around the outside of the building. Many species of webbing spiders do not harbour in the web but are found hiding in cracks and crevices nearby. By getting the spray into these areas it enhances the results and longevity of the treatment.

“A light fan spray of all the building surfaces and spider webbing is then applied, again at low pressure. This ensures there is no spray drift and that all spiders present are targeted. Homeowners should be requested to leave the webbing in place for a few days to ensure all the spiders are controlled, and then use a brush to remove the webbing.”

Of course, preventing spiders building their webs in the first place is ideal, and a spring application of Maxxthor will provide long-lasting residual protection.

When it comes to ground-dwelling species such as trapdoor spiders, Mr Broadbent advises the use of Maxxthor Turbo.

“We find there is no better solution than Maxxthor Turbo. The addition of imiprothrin, synergised with piperonyl butoxide, provides for super-fast kill. Residual protection is always limited for these species, due to their behavioural characteristics and the nature of the substrates they inhabit. It is important therefore to target the spiders themselves and their burrows,” commented Mr Broadbent.

Brady Clark of Bubba Gump Pest Control in Sydney faced a challenging termite treatment in a subfloor that was alive with large numbers of brown trapdoor spiders. Before he could comfortably navigate the subfloor to trench for termites, he had to get rid of the spiders. Maxxthor Turbo proved the ideal solution.

Mr Clark said, “I have been in professional pest management for many years, and I have not seen any other product deal with ground-dwelling spiders as quickly and efficiently as Maxxthor Turbo. We always get great results when using Maxxthor Turbo in high pressure situations.”

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