Under side of black widow spider hanging on a web

4 most venomous spiders in North America

Black Widow On WebThere are countless species of spiders found throughout the country. The vast majority of these spiders are harmless. Have you spotted a shriek-inducing spider in your home recently? Before anxiety sets in, take a moment to visit the CDC’s venomous spider page to learn more about what could be lurking in your home. Venomous spiders, in general, will typically not bite you unless they feel threatened or provoked.

Most provocations are accidental such as when getting bit while reaching for a pair of shoes and thus disturbing the spider that has chosen to make its home there. Or when reaching under a pile of clutter trying to locate something that may have been buried, along with an unsuspecting spider. If you believe you’ve been bitten by a venomous spider, seek medical assistance immediately.  Below we’ve listed four spiders of note that are active in North America.

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown recluse can be found throughout the country, but are most common in the southern states. They have a brown violin-shaped body and can grow up to a quarter of an inch in length and have six eyes arranged in pairs. The bite of a brown recluse, though often painless initially, can result in tissue necrosis and a large ulcerated sore. Systemic complications including liver and kidney damage have been known to occur as a result of a brown recluse bite but these bites only typically cause large, slow-healing wounds and at times permanent scars. They tend to look for quiet, dark places like old shoes, shoe boxes and other hard to see places such as under beds.

Black Widow

Black Widow Spider

The most commonly recognized venomous spider in the US is the black widow. The female black widow spider is easily identified by its black body and the small hourglass shape on the underside of its belly that may vary in color red to yellow to orange. It only reaches a half an inch in size; but any bite simply involving the smallest amount of venom released can cause serious illness or even death in extremely rare cases. The venom from a black widow attacks the nervous system and may cause headaches, nausea, and abdominal pain. Though commonly found in the southern states; it can also be found throughout the country.

Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider

Many reported instances of brown recluse bites are, in fact, these. They can be aggressive though they rarely attack humans unless provoked. The wound may take several weeks or months to heal. Identifying a hobo spider is quite difficult. Using a microscope, a hobo spider can be identified by their distinctive reproductive organs. The Hobo spider is typically found in the northwest region of the country but is thought to have originated from Europe. Hobo spiders are funnel-web spiders and are quite quick (running at a top speed of 1.1 meters per second).

Yellow Sac Spider

Yellow Sac Spider

Yellow sac spiders usually range in size from 1/4-3/8 inches long. Commonly found throughout the United States, they have powerful fangs that can easily penetrate human skin. Bites typically leave people with redness, painful itching and swelling that quickly develops at the bite. The yellow sac spider bites are among the most common spider bites in the country and are often misdiagnosed as brown recluse bites. Yellow Sac spiders become more active in the fall indoors as the temperature change drives them into structures. To learn more about spiders, visit our spider pest guides.

Click here for information on how to get rid of spiders in your home.

Have you encountered any of these spiders? Share below in the comments! 

Stephen E. Doyle

I am a Professional Writing major at Penn State University (Berks Campus). I will graduate in May 2014. I have finally decided to pursue my lifelong love of writing via a career change. I am a fulltime college student, fulltime father of two wonderful boys- 8 years and 5 months- and an avid reader of noir fiction, historical fiction and enjoy the occasional biography. I am also a freelance writer enjoying my summer internship with Rentokil (Ehrlich) in Reading, Pennsylvania as a marketing intern primarily writing for the blog sites for Rentokil and Ambius as well as content for the Rentokil (Ehrlich) website. I freelance for The Reading Eagle newspaper (Berks County, Pa) and I write for the Home Builders Association's award winning bi-monthly magazine, 'At Home In Berks'. A few of my hobbies are writing, watching and playing soccer with my 8 year-old son, watching my 8 year-old son play soccer, reading, watching old films (Kurosawa, Melville, Dasin, Wim Wenders, etc.), cooking and weekend jaunts to New York City.



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