Little black spiders

Asked April 29, 2020, 4:16 PM EDT

We have an infestation of little black spiders in our yard and garden. They are in the lawn and the wood chip paths. When we walk, they scatter in every direction, sometimes across my feet and legs. When I'm trying to work in the garden, they are running all over the place, startling me and frankly, grossing me out. I don't mind garden spiders that make webs and eat bad bugs. But these little black spiders that dash around the ground in the hundreds really bother me. I would like to get rid of them, preferably in a way that is safe for my garden food and for my kids and dog. Ideas or suggestions? We have plenty of other spiders too, including what I'm pretty sure are some huge Hobo spiders in the late Summer and Fall. We've found black widows. I don't have it out for all spiders, but with so many and some that are clearly not doing my garden any good, I would like to know how to control the population. Thank you! P.S. I had an infestation like this several years ago at another house. When I tried to mow, the spiders would run out of the lawn onto the patio in batches of hundreds. I went on a killing spree once with some spray poison and killed about 300, just on my small patio. They are prolific!
Lane county Oregon

I have the same question as above. We have 8 acres and the little black spiders scatter on all 8 acres. We also assumed it was a hatch- but it’s been two months, and the number is about the same. Tiny little spiders that scatter.

Ravalli County Montana

1 Response

Thank you for submitting these similar questions from both Oregon and Montana.

In both cases, there are hundreds of spiders that are commonly found in the areas/sites that you describe. In order to identify them without any photos is impossible and even with photos it is difficult; the only way to be certain with identification is to collect samples and submit them to your local county Extension Office. It also may not be necessary to identify the spiders in either case since they do not appear to be spiders that are harmful to humans.

April, May, and June are typically the months where the most species of spiders in the greatest numbers are active. September and October are also "high" sightings months, mostly when spiders are moving into homes, shops, or woodpiles and people come across them.

Other than perhaps "startling you" or "grossing you out", it does not appear that these spiders are causing any harm or reason for concern. Spiders are a very important part of a healthy environment as they prey on many garden and field pests and are, in turn, prey for many birds and other insects.

There are resources available online to help with information about spider myths and identification but, once again, identification should be done by a specialist that is probably housed at your state Department of Agriculture or land-grant University. The local county Extension Office is a great, first stop to inquire about spider identification and the steps necessary to submit a sample.

Below is a resource for spider information in Oregon:

The aforementioned publications are also relevant to Montana in most cases but just in case, here is one from Montana State University:

I hope some of these resources are helpful or at least give you an option for addressing the spiders in both of your locations. Please feel free to reach out us again if there are other questions we can answer.