Unwelcome Guests Found at the Republic at Lubbock

When Jordyn Hendrickson’s roommate reached for the doorknob to her back door, she did not expect to find an eight-legged pest in her way.

Hendrickson and her roommates have been dealing with the unwelcome addition of multiple spiders to their house at the Republic at Lubbock, on Erskine, north of the Rawls golf course.

The sophomore psychology major from Southlake, Texas, said she and her roommates believe the spiders are black widows and brown recluses, something that worries them.

“I’ve always heard about black widows and brown recluses being dangerous spiders,” Hendrickson said.

Her and her roommates’ first encounter occurred when they found a web containing two nests with multiple spiders, she said, and they noticed their neighbors’ houses had webs and spiders, too.

Since her August move-in, Hendrickson said there have been spiders in the house, and the spiders keep returning, sometimes in very unsettling places.

“I got out of bed and went to wash my face and started walking back to my bed,” Hendrickson said, “and there was a baby one in my bed.”

Hendrickson said they came across even more spiders, finding them in the kitchen and on door handles.

“One of my other roommates went outside, and she was going to grab the door handle,” she said, “and there was a black widow on the door handle so she ran to the front of the house to open the front door, and there was a black widow there, too.”

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A web of spiders was found in Hendrickson’s backyard last month, and Hendrickson said she keeps finding spiders in her home.

Nancy McIntyre, a professor and entomologist in the department of biological sciences, said the nest that Hendrickson found in her home, shown at right, is most likely a black widow nest.

“I can’t be 100 percent certain without other evidence,” McIntyre said, “but that does indeed look like a black widow egg sac.”

McIntyre said spiders are mostly harmless, but have the potential to alarm people.

“Spiders have a big freak out factor.” McIntyre said. “They want to shoot first and ask questions later. I think people make a lot of assumptions.”

Hendrickson said she and her roommates continue to find spiders in their house despite the fact that they have used pesticides and force to rid the creatures from their home.

“We kept finding spiders,” Hendrickson said.

McIntyre said it’s normal to find spiders inside as well as outside of a house, due to seasonal change in temperatures in the area.

“I find them everywhere,” McIntyre said. “They’re seeking shelter and they’re attracted to areas where there is lots of prey – in other words, bugs. Where do you find lots of bugs? Where there’s food and water. So you do see them a lot in your kitchen, in your bathroom.”

After finding spiders on the door handles, Hendrickson said they tried to take action with the management of the housing complex.

“That day, we went to the front office and said, ‘We want action taken right now. This isn’t OK. We’ve found way too many, and we don’t feel safe in our own house,'” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said that despite the Republic management’s slow response, her house was finally treated for spiders on Monday.

“They sprayed around the house, and they sprayed inside, too,” she said, “but I’ve found two spiders within the past 24 hours.”

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The Republic at Lubbock’s clubhouse, near recent construction.

Hendrickson said the Republic management told them that the housing complex receives routine sprays every other week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“If they’re really spraying as much as they say they are,” she said, “then we shouldn’t have any problems at all.”

A few residents of the houses at the complex have approached the Republic’s management with complaints about bugs and spiders, but the notice has been nothing out of the ordinary, said Lorenzo Jenkins, marketing manager for the Republic.

As the second-largest property in Lubbock, Jenkins said, the Republic has a relatively low percentage of pest-related complaints, compared to other student housing complexes in Lubbock.

Jenkins also said Gafford Pest Control Services sprays pesticide outside the units regularly, and the Republic brings in additional services as necessary.

Wayne Barado, a Gafford employee, said they take care of their customers in a timely fashion by scheduling appointments based on the severity level.

“If it’s an emergency, we can usually get it done the same day,” he said. “We can usually work things around and get it done.”

The Republic is still fairly new construction, which could be a reason for an increase in pests, Barado said.

“There’s various problems that may come up within the first few years of a new construction,” Barado said. “Just simply because you’ve disturbed prairie, farmland, whatever the case may be, and then all of a sudden you’re moving their habitats.”

Barado said most student housing complexes in Lubbock are similar in their needs for pest control

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A Gafford employee said an increase in pests near the Republic may be due to recent construction and nearby farmland or prairie.

“There’s nothing that really differentiates them really,” Barado said. “They’re about the same.”

Student housing complexes also may attract more pests like spiders because of features like safety lighting unique to student housing, Barado said.

“A lot of student housing has safety lighting outside to keep buildings lit up, which draws in flying insects, which will, in turn, draw the spiders in,” Barado said. “Black widows, the reason why they’re building their nests where they are, it’s more than likely that there’s some sort of light source or something there drawing them to it.”

Barado said spiders like black widows are normal for this area and season.

“We’ve gotten lots of calls, all over town for black widows,” Barado said. “Not just Lubbock, all over the region.”

While some who find a suspected black widow in their home might call it an infestation, Barado said there is no clear criteria for what makes an appearance of a pest an infestation.

“If you’ve got a black widow at your house, that one may be plenty,” Barado said. “If you step on it or kill it, or you’re more tolerant of it, it may take a lot more, you may have to see a few. It’s really kind of an arbitrary question, and there’s really no set number.”

For people like Hendrickson, Barado said he recommends safely collecting or getting an image of the spider for identification. From there, he said to notify management or pest control services.

“Seeing it is the critical part of us,” he said, “being able to identify it, in regards to brown recluse. Black widows, that’s pretty cut-and-dry. You have black with an orange hourglass on the underside.”

Hendrickson and her roommates are shaken by the numbet of spiders they have found in their house, she said, which makes them feel unsafe in their own home.

“Every time we feel any little thing on our body, we’re like, ‘Oh my god, it’s a black widow,’ and we freak out,” she said. “I was just scared at first. I’ve never encountered black widows.”

About Abbie Arroyos and Alicia Keene
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