A Guide To Identifying And Controlling Venomous Spider Species
Learn how to identify and control the spider species that pose dangers to people and pets.
Spiders certainly do have a reputation as creepy, crawly pests, but there's no denying that many of them are actually integral to the health and well-being of our gardens and landscapes. Since many spiders are known to kill mosquitoes and various aphids that attack our garden plantings, they must be tolerated, perhaps—but at a distance! On the other hand, there are a number of spider species that pose dangers to people and pets. Learning to identify these species (several of which are venomous) will help you understand whether or not the spiders around your home pose a threat.
Black Widow Spider
Black widow spiders are one of the easiest types of spiders to identify. Their small bodies are shiny black, with a tell-tale red hourglass shape on their abdomens. There are several species of this venomous spider, and while they can be found throughout the U.S., they are most abundant in the South. They enjoy hanging out near wood piles, in boxes, and under the eaves of homes. Because black widows tend to spin their webs near the ground, they can easily come into contact with people and pets. If they manage to hitch a ride on firewood, they can gain entrance into your home.
While a male black widow can bite, it's almost always the female who is responsible for sinking her fangs into people or pets. Despite their diminutive size (between ½ and 1½ inches long), black widow spiders pack a poisonous punch and bites should be taken seriously. A black widow bite can be accompanied by pain at the bite site, fever, nausea, and increased blood pressure. Bites aren’t usually fatal, though they can be, especially when the victim is a small child or elderly individual. Anyone who has been bitten should immediately seek professional medical care.
Brown Recluse Spiders
The brown recluse spider is serious about maintaining its solitude, so if it’s disturbed while hiding in a corner of a cabinet, closet, or crawlspace, it's apt to bite. This venomous spider is also known to hang out in outdoor debris like leaf or wood piles. Primarily found in the Central U.S., as far north as Ohio and as far south as Texas, the brown recluse has also made its presence known in Southeastern states like Georgia and Alabama.
The brown recluse, which can grow to a length of 3/8 of an inch, is relatively bland in appearance, thanks to its light brown hue and spindly legs. However, the tell-tale violin-shaped marks on its back should alert you to the danger it presents. The bite of a brown recluse is extremely painful and has known to produce an ulcerating sore around the bite spot that can expand without medical treatment. Fever can also accompany this arachnid's bite. Seek professional medical care if you are bitten by a brown recluse spider.
Commonly found in the northwestern United States, the hobo spider gets its name because it appears to enjoy hopping rides with humans in their bags or on their jackets. Unfortunately, the range of this venomous spider has begun to expand aggressively, so there is genuine fear that more states will soon be hosting these uninvited guests. Hobo spiders can be various shades of brown, with light brown, unbanded legs. They grow to 1-1¾ inches in diameter. Hobo spiders build funnel-shaped webs and have a wandering habit, which is what typically puts them in contact with humans.
Some people have complained that the bite of a hobo spider can lead to necrotic lesions such as those produced by the brown recluse. However, most experts believe that such bites most likely did not come from a hobo. Even so, the bite of a hobo spider is painful and can leave the skin looking red and angry for several days.
These hairy spiders are sometimes confused with tarantulas. Wolf spiders are commonly found throughout the United States, especially in Missouri, Texas, and California. In fact, if you spend significant time gardening or working in your yard, it would be surprising if you hadn’t spied at least one. Wolf spiders prefer to hang out around walls and door entrances, which is how they typically make their way inside. They do not build webs, but instead live in burrows usually located near wood piles or under stones and organic debris like leaf piles.
Wolf spiders are usually black, gray, or dark brown, and can grow up to 1½ inches in length. They are often on the move when spotted, which is why they have a reputation as being aggressive. The reason they’re on the go, though, is that these webless spiders have to hunt for their prey. Although a wolf spiders have been known to bite humans, they usually won't unless provoked. In most cases, this type of spider will retreat or rear up on its hind legs to expose its large fangs before biting. If you do suffer a bite from this species, you can usually treat it at home with an ice pack and a bit of ointment to reduce any pain or inflammation.
How to Control Dangerous Spider Species
Ortho® Home Defense® products can help protect your home and your peace of mind. If these or other unwanted spiders have entered your home without permission, use Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier with Extended Reach Comfort Wand®. To kill these unwanted spiders in your yard, use Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape. When it comes to dangerous spiders, it's important to take immediate steps to control them so that they don't harm anyone in your household.