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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
A spider dangles in a web in front of a vacant home in Saratoga Springs, where a neighborhood has seen an influx of arachnids.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Residents in the Lake Mountain area of Saratoga Springs have recently had a number of unwanted guests pop up, keeping many inside at night until the problem gets resolved.

About a month and a half ago, neighbors started to notice an influx of spiders on their porches, in their gardens and along the structures of their homes.

"When they first came out, I was really blown away," said Collin Curtis, who has lived in the area for 2 1/2 years. "They sprang out of nowhere. I probably could have counted 40 or 50 spiders hanging throughout my yard."

Curtis describes them as large, orb-weaving spiders, which usually come out in the evening after the sun has gone down. Curtis says that he has also seen several

other types of spiders around his house, which has kept him on the offensive to try and combat the problem.

"This is the first year we have had a problem with the spiders," Curtis said. "Everyone has them, though. If you drive through the neighborhood you will see those big spider webs all over houses. They are good-sized spiders, too."

Rebekah Rasmussen's husband, Brandon, was bitten by a spider while spraying around the house after he realized the size of the problem. The bite swelled up to the size of a golf ball and became extremely hard and calloused under the skin. The Rasmussens gathered some of the spiders around the home to research and identify them. They said some of the spiders they found looked like black widows or hobo spiders while one looked eerily similar to the brown recluse. Other neighbors have come to some of the same conclusions.

While the hobo and black widow spiders can be found throughout Utah, Julia Tuck, a horticulture assistant for the Utah State University extension center in Utah County, said the brown recluse is not native to Utah. There are many spiders that look like the brown recluse, Tuck said, adding that even the hobo and black widow spiders are often misidentified because there are many local spiders that look similar to them.

"There is a spider called the saltair spider, and it can come in great numbers," Tuck said. "They will have light stripes or dots and the basic shape looks like a black widow. The only real way to know what type of spider it is, though, is if someone can catch one of the spiders and then we will identify them."

The USU extension has a lab where those interested can pay a dollar to have a spider identified to tell if it is poisonous. Tuck also said that keeping the spiders outside is important. Keeping the home free from clutter, cleaning out window wells and caulking holes in walls is important. Spider traps can also be purchased to help with some of the pests, but for some spiders the common remedy of bug spray may actually increase the problem.

"Besides not affecting the spider, you will often times kill their prey," said Tuck.

Whether the spiders are poisonous or not, their sudden appearance in the neighborhood has left many residents uneasy. Jodi Barlow has one child and another on the way, and although the problem has died down somewhat from its initial influx, the thought of the spiders coming into the house as the weather gets colder has her concerned.

"It is scary, they have gathered up on our house," she said. "You see them all over people's porches, mailboxes and vehicles, and the neighborhood is covered in webs. Not many people want to take their kids out and play anymore."


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