You may not be planning for too many guests in your home this fall, but some surprise visitors could be wandering through your living room anyway: spiders.
Autumn is a time when the leaves fall and temperatures drop, but it's also when most spiders begin to mate. And even though you're bound to see spiders in your home throughout the year, the chances of seeing one sprint around the house heighten in the fall, because it's likely the spiders are looking for partners.
Spiders typically mature in the spring or summer, said Jason Dunlop, a researcher from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. When it gets closer to fall, mature male spiders that typically live only for a year leave their webs in search of a female.
“Females give off a chemical called a pheromone, a kind of perfume, which the males can sense with special hairs on their legs. The wandering males are basically sniffing around for a mature female,” Dunlop told USA TODAY.
Another reason the males wander around is that females stay by their webs and conserve the energy needed to lay eggs, according to Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at The Burke Museum at the University of Washington.
Once the males have developed functional sex organs, they stop looking for prey and instead seek out a partner.
“That's what he will keep doing for the remainder of his life, which at that point is going to be relatively short because when you're not foraging for prey, you will eventually starve,” Crawford said.
Female spiders can be found pretty much anywhere, inside or outside a home, which can be a rather daunting journey for a male trying to slide into the DMs. That’s why if you happen to find one inside your home, it’s most likely a male just looking for a female to hit up.
“There's this misguided perception that all of a sudden there are many more spiders than there used to be but, you know, that's not the case. They're just more noticeable because the males are moving around,” said Anne Danielson-Francois, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
There is no exact timetable for when spiders will show up, Crawford said, because some of the arachnids, including the giant house spider, have already begun mating in the Seattle area. Typically, they’ll be more noticeable in September through October.
Danielson-Francois says people often think the appearance of spiders correlates with Halloween, but there is no need to be spooked.
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“People shouldn't panic and call a pest control agency,” Danielson-Francois said. “They're not interested in setting up shop in the house.”
Crawford said another reason you shouldn't worry is that nearly all house spiders are harmless.
Experts say people shouldn’t kill these spiders, even if they cannot stand them. As Dunlop pointed out, spiders get rid of many insects, including mosquitoes.
Dunlop said the worst thing that a spider can do to you is give a “nasty surprise,” and Crawford said spider bites “are vanishingly rare in the life of any individual person.”
Danielson-Francois said that if you really can’t handle spiders, just move them to garages, basements or attics.
“I advocate for people getting to know them, and becoming less afraid of them and keeping them around, but I realized that's a stretch.”
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Seeing spiders in your home? Fall is mating season, but don't panic