PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP, N.J. — It’s a widely accepted myth: Spiders migrate to our houses in order to escape the harsh winter conditions. But the notion is only that, a myth.
Not every spider species wants to shack up in your home.
Normally, spiders don’t infest homes more it the winter, in fact those spiders that you sometimes see dashing around have likely been with you all year.
While some species are more commonly seen in houses than others, experts say most arachnids in Pennsylvania are well suited to survive in sub-freezing conditions. And, unlike humans, spiders are cold blooded because of their inability to regulate body temperature.
“They’re perfectly capable of staying outside on their own. Around here, they have sort of an anti-freeze in their blood so they can survive in temperatures in the low 20s without freezing and dying.”
Dr. Rob Furey, Professor of Integrated Sciences at Harrisburg University says that as temperatures drop, it’s the anti-freeze in their blood that prevents cells from freezing and water expanding in ice. If spiders didn’t have this anti-freeze, the cells would crystalize and the cell wall would burst, causing death.
So, if most spiders don’t travel indoors in the winter months, then what actually happens to them?
“What they’re going to do is they will look for a place that is a little bit secluded, a little bit protected. Under bark, in a rock pile, or underneath a log.”
When temperatures start to warm back up, spiders will slowly come out of hiding and stop producing the anti-freeze chemical that was so desperately needed during the winter months.