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Big jewel spiders nothing to worry about, says city entomologist
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 4:05PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 6:39PM MDT
It’s one of the biggest spider species in the province and more and more Albertans may be noticing them around the home recently.
The jewel or cat face spider has been more visible in recent weeks but an entomologist says there’s nothing to worry about.
“(They’re) absolutely harmless,” said Peter Daly, a field entomologist with the city.
“They’re just about the biggest spider you’re likely to find around here, so it’s understandable to me how people could be afraid of them.”
Thuraya Marshall spotted the spider outside her front door over the last few days.
“I saw a giant web right by the corner of our front door and then there was a giant spider in it one day,” Marshall said.
“We couldn’t come out of the garage unless we ducked under this web. It wasn’t fun.”
Marshall says many Edmontonians she’s spoken with have noticed the spiders as well.
“Everyone I’ve talked to pretty much… have said they’ve got at least one or two in their yard,” Marshall said.
The orb-weaving spiders typically come out at night but don’t like to be indoors and while there may appear to be more jewel spiders hanging around this year, Daly says the numbers aren’t unusual.
“They’re certainly not new,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any kind of drastic increase over previous years.”
He notes that there may be more spiders this year due to higher mosquito numbers, but it's not something the city tracks.
Daly says the spiders, which are native to Edmonton, helps keep insect numbers down around the home.
Marshall agrees, saying she’s noticed a decline in mosquitos where she lives.
“Before we had the web our door would be covered in mosquitos when we’d come home,” she said.
“Now maybe there’s one or two and the rest of them are sitting in the web being eaten.”
According to the Royal Alberta Museum website, the spider is one of 25 species of orb-weaving spiders found throughout southern and central Alberta, and as far north as Grande Prairie.
The spiders are around throughout most of the spring and summer, and into fall, but most people don’t notice them until late July at the earliest, and more often in August or September.
Daly says once the region begins to receive frost, the spiders should disappear.
With files from Veronica Jubinville