Murder She Wrote: Is the Writing Spider Dangerous?

Writing spiders are most commonly found in gardens, bushes, and shrubs

One of our customers sent us an email to ask us if she should be concerned about this spider that she found outside her home in Murfreesboro, TN.

The spider in question is known as argiope aurantia. It is a colorful spider that goes by a primary common name of black and yellow agriope. This spider is also known as a yellow garden argiope, yellow garden orb-weaver, golden garden spider, golden orb-weaver, and the writing spider.

Although it looks rather threatening, the writing spider doesn’t prey on humans. But if it is provoked, it will bite. The bite feels similar to a bee sting. Young children, the elderly, and those with sensitive immune systems should take special care not to harass this pest. It’s best to marvel at these spiders and their webs, but not touch them.

The female does, however, prey on her mate. After intercourse, the male writing spider has an irreversible seizure and is dead within 20 minutes. Then, preparing her afternoon treat, the female spider wraps him in a silk sack and leaves him on the edge of her web to devour him later.

As far as how this spider got its name, the writing’s on the web. As you can see in the picture above–submitted by our customer–it looks like there are several x or z shapes in the web. These zig-zag patterns make the writing spider easy to identify.

Writing spiders are orb-weavers, which means they make beautiful, elaborate webs in a circular formation. And not just one web, either. This scribbling spider builds and tears down its UV-light-reflective web every day! Female writing spiders try to build these webs in places where they won’t be disturbed. So, if the web is in one place one day, it will likely be in the same place the next day. These webs are made of silk that is stronger and more flexible than steel!

Writing spiders are most commonly found in gardens, bushes, and shrubs. Because these spiders are found throughout the mainland of North America, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen this spider or its web before if you live in one of the 48 contiguous states in America. And if you haven’t, you may have read about the writing spider or watched a movie about it.

Orb-weaving spiders were made famous in E.B. White’s beloved novel “Charlotte’s Web.”

The character of Charlotte actually contains her spider identity in her middle name: Aranea. Although Charlotte is a slightly different species than a writing spider, she shares many characteristics with writing spiders, especially her web-making skills.

If you would like help with the spider population in or around your home, contact us for a free quote today!

Pirates and Pests: In Honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day

fleas and pirates

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day! In honor of this historically awesome calendar celebration, we decided to investigate what sort of pests pirates contended with.

Avast ye! Here’s our treasured information…

These scurvy lads weren’t alone on their pirate ship. They often had the company of rats and fleas. In fact, rats would often attack the pirates if they were disturbed from their hiding places in cracks and crevices. Blimey! Maybe that’s why pirates seem so filthy. They probably didn’t want to thoroughly clean their ship for fear of a rat pack attack!

Reeling from a rat or flea bite, the pirates screamed, “ARRRGGGHHHH!” and then occasionally contracted scabies. If you’re unfamiliar with scabies, it’s a skin rash that leads to a whole lot of itching.

Many pirates had the unpleasant job of sweeping the rats off of the ship and into the water. As you can imagine, this is probably when a lot of the rat and flea bites happened. The rats were forced out of their hiding places. The fleas, sensing their rat meals were leaving, would often latch on to the nearest blood meal–the pirate sweeping the ship. Because fleas can lay up to 500 eggs, this must have been an incredibly unpleasant experience.

Out to sea and on the run, pirates didn’t have the convenience of calling The Bug Man to rid them of their rabid rats and fierce fleas. All they could do was batten down the hatches, try to keep in shipshape, and make sure the Jolly Roger was properly displayed until they hit land.

You may not live on a pirate ship. But if you do find yourself yelling, “Shiver me timbers!” at the sight of a rat or flea waiting to pillage your living space, we’re here ready to blow the man down. Or blow the rat down. Or blow the flea down. The point is…we’ll take care of it for you. 🙂

Bug Basics: Could Earwigs Crawl in Your Ear?

Could Earwigs Crawl in Your Ear?

Do your ears hang low, do you wonder now and then, if earwigs will enter through your ear, and then move in?

Many myths exist in the pest world, including the eerie thought that earwigs can enter in your ear and invade your brain.

But could earwigs crawl in your ear? Well, lend us your ears, and we’ll tell you.

Creepy as they may look, earwigs will not go zombie on you and begin to eat your brain. Go ahead and cancel that aspect of the zombie apocalypse. 🙂

Rather than feasting on your cerebral cortex, earwigs would much rather eat leaves, flowers, fruits, mold, and insects.

These pesky pinchers enter into your home via cracks and crevices on the outside of your house. They usually harbor under piles of lawn debris, mulch, or in tree holes.

Rest at ease, because your brain is safe. But make sure to seal up the cracks and crevices on your home to keep earwigs–and many other pests–outside.

Treating Ticks Turns Tougher: Ticks Becoming Resistant to Treatment

Ticks Becoming Resistant to Treatment

As the fleeting days of summer tic-toc away, the ticks in the yard keep biting all day.

While browsing the YouTube feed for the University of Florida Entomology page, we noticed a web clip about how some ticks are becoming resistant to certain kinds of tick medicine that their owners use. Click below towatch the YouTube video.

Our office has experienced flash floods of calls from concerned pet owners asking us why the ticks are so bad this year. We’ve heard people say things like, “I’ve never had trouble with ticks before and now I suddenly have major issues.”

Well, this resistance to tick medicine may be part of the reason the ticks seem so bad.

Another reason may be the acorn crop of a couple years ago, like we discussed in our other blog: How Acorns are Contributing to More Ticks This Year.

We offer an outside tick treatment for the foundation of the home and the yard. If you’re interested in hearing more about how we may be able to help curb your tick problem, please call our office at 615.217.7284. Or, you could always send us a direct message on Facebook at

Purple Triangle in the Tree: Emerald Ash Borer Traps in Murfreesboro, TN

Emerald Ash Borer
Have you seen the purple triangle in the tree?

It’s hard to miss. The purple triangle in the tree sticks out among green vegetation.

Is it a kite? Is some kid crying because their toy is trapped in a tree?

No, this trapped object is actually a trap for emerald ash borers. These destructive pests infest ash trees and kill them within three years.

The emerald ash borer entered America by way of Michigan 15-20 years ago. And now they’ve made their way down to Tennessee. They’ve traveled so far because of the transportation of firewood from one state to another, or even from one side of a state to the other side of a state.

One of the best ways to prevent the spreading of these awful insects is by not transporting firewood.

If you’re going to go camping in the Ocoee River Basin in East Tennessee, then buy your firewood there. Don’t bring Murfreesboro firewood to Cleveland, TN.

Keeping firewood local will make more people happy campers, and help keep ash borers more contained.

For more information on the emerald ash borer in Tennessee, you can visit this website: It includes helpful tips, including quarantine information.

Here’s a video about the life cycle of emerald ash borers:

This brings an entirely new market to shopping locally: Shop local for firewood. 🙂


Tips for Mosquito Control This Summer

Tips for Mosquito Control This Summer

The Bug Man offers tips to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.

There are a lot of different ways to approach mosquito control. You could dance if you want to. You could leave your friends behind.

A graduate student from the University of Florida Entomology program prefers the dance method. We found a video that features a ‘skeeter slap dance.’ Check it out below:

Not only is that video amusing, but it also offers a closer look at mosquitoes. Most of us slap them away too quickly to actually see what they look like.  Below we list steps you can take to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.  While you may not achieve complete mosquito control, this will help.

Steps to help mosquito reduction and control.

  • As you saw in that video, the student was wearing long pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. When you’re out and about with mosquitoes out, it helps if you wear clothing that covers up your arms and legs.
  • Emptying out areas of standing water is also really helpful for mosquito control. This includes kiddie pools, unused bird baths, tins in the yard, and even inside old tires.
  • Change the water in birdbaths, plant pots, and drip trays at least once a week.
  • Clean the debris out of your rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
  • Use a mosquito repellent with deet when you’re outside.
  • Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioning units and repair leaks or puddles.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water.
The Bug Man also offers a seasonal mosquito reduction program. Please call our office at 615.217.7284 for more information on how we can reduce the mosquito population in your yard.

Ticks and Lyme Disease: Put the Lyme in the Coconut and Call Me in the Morning

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Now, let us get it straight, you got the Lyme disease from the ticks and now your neck hurts? Put a lime in the coconut and call us in the morning to set up an appointment to treat your yard for ticks!

Did we stretch that comparison too much? 🙂

With this year’s super-abundance of ticks, you’ve got to wonder if there will be more cases of lyme disease reported. Although only 2% of tick bites result in lyme disease, we wanted to give you a brief explanation of what Lyme disease is.

    • Lyme disease is most common in boys between the ages of 5 and 19. It’s also common with people over 30 years old.
    • 80% of the people with lyme disease develop a rash around the tick bite
    • Lyme rash is often confused with spider bites. The rash enlarges in size over time, and is usually red in color
    • Lyme disease must be diagnosed by a doctor
    • 20% of people with lyme disease have flu-like symptoms, but not a rash
    • A cough and runny nose are not symptoms of lyme disease
    • Fever, aches, and fatigue can be signs of lyme disease
    • If lyme disease is left untreated, it could lead to temporary paralysis, and numbness in the face and limbs
    • Over time it could also lead to short-term memory loss, migraines and dizzines

If you’re in an area that has lots of ticks, be on the lookout for any signs of a rash or these symptoms. Just because you wake up with a sore neck doesn’t mean you have lyme disease, though. Put a lime in a coconut and call your doctor in the morning to discuss any symptoms.

If you’re in Rutherford or Wilson County in Middle Tennessee and you’d like to get your yard treated for ticks, please give us a call at 615.217.7284. You could also call us to sing us the lime and the coconut song, if you’d like. We’re all about random times of amusement throughout the day.

Free Termite Inspection Helps Homeowners Protect Their Homes

Termite Inspection Helps Homeowners Protect Their Homes

The best things in life are free. Protecting your home from termites is one of the best things you can do! And, in the case of our termite inspections, it’s also free!

We receive numerous calls from people in the Murfreesboro, Smyrna, La Vergne, Christiana, Rockvale, and Lebanon area about termites. A lot of the people who call are surprised that we offer a free termite inspection. They ask us why we would freely provide that service.

Our technician prepares to inspect for termites.

Our answer to that oft-asked question is this: We want to help you protect your home and we want to give you the education and resources you need to protect your home.

If you have any questions about our termite options, please call us at 615-217-7284, follow us on Facebook, or tweet us on Twitter.

How Acorns are Contributing to More Ticks This Year

How Acorns are Contributing to More Ticks This Year

Did you know that 2010’s acorn crop is contributing to this year’s increase in ticks?

It’s not the early hot weather that we’ve had. It’s acorns!

While browsing Twitter the other day, we came across a story that the National Pest Management Association (@PestWorld) tweeted. To read their full article on the topic, you can follow this link: Acorns, Not Weather, to Blame for More Ticks.

Basically, the increase in the acorn crop led to an increase in mice eating the acorns. And with more mice, come more ticks. The science of pest control has a lot to do with the predator and prey food chain. One pest affects another pest.

The Bug Man serves Rutherford and Wilson County in Tennessee. We have a specialized tick service. For more information on how we can take care of your tick problem, please call us at 615-217-7284 or email us at

And, we’re active on Twitter and Facebook. We frequently post updates about pest issues in our area, as well as funny photos and videos. Join us there!

The Bug Man Finds a Black Widow Spider in an Unexpected Location

Black Widow Spider in an Unexpected Location

A black widow spider is tricky and elusive. It invokes terror into many Murfreesboro-ans, Smyrna-ans, Antioch-ans, Lebanon-ans, La Vergne-ans, and most hum-ans in general. Let’s face it, black widow spiders get a bad rap most of the time!

In order to help our office staff become more familiar with what our technicians do out in the field, we occasionally take field trips with the technicians to see how and why they do what they do.

As the writer of this blog, I love learning more about our pest control process so I can speak to our customers in an informed, yet understandable way.

On my latest field trip with technician Daniel Lambert, I learned a lot! I’ll be sharing pictures and videos from my field trip adventure over the next several weeks. Today’s topic is: the black widow spider.

When we arrived on the scene, one of the first things Daniel did was get rid of the webs on the exterior of the home with a brush. This simple, yet effective action added quite the cosmetic upgrade to the home.

One of the bonuses of hiring a pest control professional like The Bug Man is getting the expertise of the technician.

Our technicians are trained to expect the unexpected and look for problem pests that could potentially harm our beloved customers.

As we were making our way around the house to inspect, Daniel pointed to a plastic drainage container under the gutter and said, “I bet there’s a black widow spider under there. I almost always find a black widow under those.”

As I looked on, Daniel swiftly picked up the drain and flipped it over. And, to his credit, there was in fact a black widow spider underneath it. And, wow! It was a hoss! A large, round, ugly-looking-behemoth arachnid.

Black widow spider

Here’s a closer view of the angry 8-legger. Notice how some of it’s legs are raised in an attack-like stance. Eeek!

Angry black widow spider

Shortly after this photo was taken, the angry black widow became a formerly-angry and currently-dead black widow.

Thanks for letting me re-live my field trip with you, blog reader. I’ll keep you posted on what else happened on this knowledge adventure. Check back next week. If you’ve got questions, please post them in the comments below.