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Poisonous Spiders of South Carolina

The Dreaded Black Widow Spider

In case you don't know, almost all spiders are capable of producing venomous bites. But in South Carolina, there are really only two species of spider that you have to worry about. They are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. In the United States, about six deaths a year are caused by spider bites. On average, bees and wasps cause 12 deaths a year, while snakes cause about 10 deaths a year.

Now, that shouldn't let you take spider bites lightly, because spider bites can cause serious injury even if they don't kill you. Black widow spiders have more potent venom than other spiders. Their venom is a neurotoxin, and it can cause swelling and severe skin damage if not treated. If you think you have been bitten by a black widow spider, go to your nearest hospital emergency room or doctor. If you can do it safely, catch the spider in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and take it with you when you seek medical treatment.

Spiders like clutter and dark places. And spiders especially like to nest in cardboard boxes, especially in attics, closets, and under beds. They also are known to hide in woodpiles and in rural mailboxes. If you're working with firewood that has been stacked a while, wear long sleeves and gloves. In South Carolina, especially in the low country, these spiders make their homes in outdoor buildings, rock walls, and other dark places.

The cleaner you keep things, the fewer problems you will have with spiders. If you have to store things, use plastic boxes with tight-fitting lids, and be careful with boxes and their contents that have been stored for a while. Be especially careful if you can see spider webs. If you see spider webs, wear gloves and be prepared to use deadly force if you see a black widow spider. You can purchase spider spray and spider traps to use under beds, in attics, and in out buildings.

You should be aware that both black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders like to live in stored cardboard boxes. People often receive spider bites when they crush or mash a spider. So if you think a spider might be present, use caution.

If you have a rural mail box, check in and around it regularly, because black widow spiders really do like to make their home in mail boxes. If you see a spider in your mail box, spray it with a commercial pesticide made for spiders. Afterwards, you can wash your mail box out with warm soapy water, which incidentally also gets rid of spiders.

Below is an excellent identification chart to help you identify spiders in your area.

Here is a great spider information chart that you can download and use to identify spiders with. Remember some people are allergic to spiders and spider bites.

Here is a great spider information chart that you can download and use to identify spiders with. Remember some people are allergic to spiders and spider bites.

Things You Can Do to Prevent Spider Bites

Did you know that the black widow spider's bite is 10 times more deadly than a rattlesnake bite? It's important that you and your other family members are able to identify a black widow spider and a brown recluse spider. There are several preventive measures you can take to prevent being bitten:

  1. Carefully take down all the curtains in your house and wash them in hot soapy water. If you see spider webs behind your curtains, clean up everything with a strong insecticide soap. If you suspect spiders are about, wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves while you do this.
  2. Set your bed out away from the wall and away from curtains. Spray under your bed and on your washed curtains with a strong pennyroyal solution. This prevents spiders better than anything.
  3. If you know or suspect there are brown recluse or black widow spiders in your house, remove all bed skirts. Store any shoes you're not wearing in a plastic container with a lid.
  4. Keep the floors of closets and under your bed very clean. Don't use cardboard boxes and don't let clutter build up. Prevention is the best way to keep spiders away. If you suspect you have spiders about, buy box spider traps and set them out for a few days in a dark area. If you find brown recluse or black widow spiders in your spider traps call a professional pest control company to deal with your spider problem.
  5. Don't put on clothing, including socks and shoes, without carefully shaking them out to see if spiders are hiding in them. If spiders are about, never wear clothing that has been lying on the floor. Often, a spider will hide inside an item of clothing and bite the wearer.
  6. If you have a severe spider problem, don't store anything under your bed. Keep it perfectly clean, and spray oil of pennyroyal under your bed so no spiders will set up homes there. Use plastic boxes with tight-fitting lids instead of cardboard boxes. For some reason, spiders seem to love cardboard boxes. You should always try to have as little clutter as possible, so you won't have as many spiders around.

Brown Recluse Spiders in South Carolina

It is believed that the brown recluse spider is expanding its original range; it's now found in most of South Carolina. You can look at the photos above to see if the spider you're seeing is indeed a brown recluse spider. Never assume that because you live outside the normal range of the spider that one or more of them can't show up in your home. If you live in much of the old American South, its likely that the spider may have expanded into your area.

At one point in time the spider was not found in Florida, but the spider has recently been found in large numbers in houses and buildings in the state. It appears that they have become yet another invasive species that have invaded Florida. I have found the spider in the attic and basement of a house I own in St. Augustine, Florida, so it's likely the spider is quickly expanding its original range.

After much research, I now believe that the brown recluse spider has established itself in every county of South Carolina.

The brown recluse spider is rarely aggressive, and most bites occur when someone mashes a spider or crushes it accidentally. If you know the spider occurs in your area be, sure to shake your shoes out before you put them on. If you move items like firewood, wear longsleeves and gloves.

If you live where these spiders occur like South Carolina, don't store your belongings in cardboard boxes because these spiders love to make nests in them. Use plastic boxes with lids for storing items, and put pennyroyal in each box to ensure no spiders make their home there. Pennyroyal is a member of the mint family, and it is also known as squaw mint, pudding grass and mosquito plant. You can also purchase pennyroyal oil and put a tablespoon in a pint of water and spray your storage containers to keep away all spiders.

The brown recluse spider may bite you, and you may not even feel it at first. Skin necrosis occurs in 37 percent of bites. When it does, it can result in the loss of a finger if the bite occurred there or even the entire limb. The bite can cause a necrotizing ulcer that destroys soft tissue and can take months to heal.

A brown recluse spider bite can become itchy and painful within 8 to 12 hours of the spider bite. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention at once and tell the medical practitioner you suspect you may have been bitten by a brown recluse spider.

This species was first confirmed in my state in 1976 at Goose Creek, South Carolina. Since then, they have been found at the University of Clemson and in Liberty, South Carolina, where 14 spiders of the species were found in one house.

This is a rather small spider that is usually about 1/8th of an inch long. They are almost never bigger than a U.S. quarter. They can be light brown to yellow in color. This spider has three pairs of eyes, which makes them easily identifiable. The distinct violin shape on its back is not a reliable way to identify it, because you will see other brown spiders with these markings. They have a rather long life span. It is not at all unusual for the spiders to live two years or longer.

This is the herb known as pennyroyal. Spiders cannot stand it, including the brown recluse and black widow. It has a strong smell and will keep all spiders away. It is a member of the mint family.

This is the herb known as pennyroyal. Spiders cannot stand it, including the brown recluse and black widow. It has a strong smell and will keep all spiders away. It is a member of the mint family.

Effective Spider Control

You can keep spiders away by keeping the area super clean and clear of any insect prey. If there are a lot of insects around, then you're going to have a healthy spider population around as well.

  1. Use chemical control. Be sure any pesticide you use contains pyrethrins, which kill and control spiders. These chemicals assure a quick kill of any exposed spiders. If you have a healthy population of spiders, call in a professional pest control company. Especially if you're seeing large numbers of brown recluse spiders or black widow spiders.
  2. Keep all areas very clean, especially cabinets, attics, closets, storage areas, and under beds. Try to use plastic boxes with lids for storage and never cardboard boxes.
  3. Wash down all outside areas with a strong insecticidal soap that contains pyrethrins. Keep bushes and trees cut back away from your house. Keep bushes trimmed and don't let them touch your house.
  4. Discourage spiders by knocking down or washing down their webs, nests, egg sacs and the spiders themselves. Don't let them get established and you won't have spiders. If you're seeing spider webs, then you need to step up your spider eradication methods.

Spider Bites

If you end up with a red swelling bite that itches and is painful, apply ice to the bite area and seek medical attention at once. Don't wait to see if it's going to get better. Seek medical help immediately.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Dr. E. Lee Spence on August 11, 2020:

He was living in what amounted to a cabin just outside of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It turned all black around the two bites that he had on the same hand. He was an emergency room nurse but had been out if work and wasn’t taking care of himself. I got after him and I assume he got proper care. When I saw the bites, the dead tissue looked horrible.

evan stone on January 18, 2019:

finger puft up black around the bite

David Philips on October 20, 2017:

Your article was very interesting and informative. I appreciate your taking the time and effort with it! Oh, btw, the comment by GeekyGardener was ridiculous! Takes all kinds to make the world go round huh? Lol

tatianna on August 27, 2017:

I have 14 of them in my room what can i do

vera brown on August 05, 2017:

would like to e mail this article to someone for their info.

Norma chanda on June 16, 2017:

I was bitten a few years ago while picking string beans in the garden, had a wound almost exactly like the one above and it started to spread on my hand. Went to first dr and she said it was lice, cost me $250 to have my home cleaned. Idiot! Went to dermatologist and he said it was a spider bite but not a brown recluse, not true, my would was exactly like the one above. Now I have been seeing them in the sink at work, boss just sent me a picture, I had killed two, she found one last night, it had the fiddle on it, i'm positive it's a brown recluse. Time to call pest control back again.

Andrea Scipio on February 07, 2017:

My son has been bitten by Brown recluse recently he's has recover from didn't want to go to the hospital until I convinced him and I knew from the start that it was a brown recluse spider bite and there's always brown recluse in and outside his apartment...I could of one night got bitten by one from his shower curtain I am death scared of spiders...I told him to be very careful...he didn't know he was bitten but I had to happen in his so scary

GeekyGardener on April 27, 2016:

If the brown recluse and black widow spiders are poisonous like you claim they are, then why in the world should I or anyone else be concerned about them biting? I only worry about being bitten by venomous insects or reptiles (rattlesnakes and the like). However, thanks to your warning about these "poisonous" spiders, I will be sure not to eat any of them, just like I avoid eating other poisonous things, like arsenic, cyanide, oleander and deadly nightshade.

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on October 05, 2014:

Yes there are plenty of Brown Recluse in your area and mine. I am at Fallston about 12 miles north of Shelby N.C.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on October 05, 2014:

Thanks for this important information. Several people I know in our area have been bitten by Brown Recluse.

summerberrie on May 13, 2013:

I've seen plenty of black widow spiders her in SC under logs outside but never in the house. However, tend to find those brown recluses under my kids piles dirty cloths on the bathroom floor. I will be keeping an eye out for the Penny Royal. Thanks for all the useful information!

JohnM from Miami Florida on May 11, 2013:

Spooky spiders CHG especially the black widow at the top there. Brown Recluse Spiders are very dangerous and everyone should learn what they look like. You did a great job CHG with this Hub Page.

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on May 06, 2013:

Thanks my friend> I appreciate you stopping by. It is appreciated..

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on May 06, 2013:

Very interesting and informative hub, well done !

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 06, 2013:

This is informative and scary. Photo of that wound is just plain nasty! OUCH!

Subhas from New Delhi, India on May 05, 2013:

Very nice informative hub. Recently, I read in newspaper that we lost a great rock artist because of spider bite to his hand which slowly decomposed his hand and the poison then spread to the other parts of his body and he finally died.