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U.S. Venomous Spiders: Black Widow, Brown Recluse, & Hobo

I've spent many years dealing with pests and critters in my garden, including venomous spiders.

These three venomous spiders—the brown recluse, the black widow, and the hobo spider—are well-known for their lethal bite.

These three venomous spiders—the brown recluse, the black widow, and the hobo spider—are well-known for their lethal bite.

Venomous Spiders of the United States

There are three venomous spiders in the United States. These three spiders, the brown recluse, the black widow, and the hobo, are well-known for both their beauty and their lethal bite.

Some species of spiders in the United States can deliver a toxic, painful bite, but they are not considered deadly. The mouse spider, the black house spider, and the wolf spider fall into this category. Even though these three species are not deadly, you should still go to the emergency room if you are bitten by one because many people with allergies can have a bad reaction to almost any spider bite.

If you can safely catch or kill the spider that delivered the bite, take it with you to the hospital so that medical personnel can identify the species. Use a jar with a lid to catch the spider and safely transport it with you. Only attempt to do this if you can capture the spider safely. Do not risk getting bitten.

The black widow spider with its classic hourglass-shaped, red marking.

The black widow spider with its classic hourglass-shaped, red marking.

The Black Widow Spider

There are three distinct species of the black widow spider in the United States, and all three are venomous. There is the Southern black widow, the Western black widow, and the Northern black widow. While these spiders are not large, their venom is extremely dangerous to humans and other animals.

Hundreds of People Have Been Killed by Black Widows

Several hundred people have been killed in the United States by black widows since the 1950s, when bite-related deaths were first recorded. This spider is more aggressive than other spiders and should be approached with extreme caution.

Seek Emergency Medical Attention Immediately

If you are bitten by a black widow, go straight to the emergency room and tell them you suspect it was a black widow spider bite.


If your outdoor area is infested with black widows, they are easy to take care of. Spray down all the suspected areas with soapy water, and get rid of debris piles while wearing gloves. Exercise caution around mailboxes. This spider loves to nest in mailboxes and underneath outdoor furniture.

An Active Black Widow Spider

The brown recluse spider.

The brown recluse spider.

The Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider is one of the most deadly spiders in the United States. It is also known in some areas of the country as the violin or fiddleback spider because of the markings on its back. Its bite can be very destructive to human flesh, and its venom is extremely toxic.

The brown recluse likes to hide in dark places. It can be found in attics and piles of wood, so exercise extreme caution when working in these conditions. Keep in mind that the brown recluse hides. If you must work with an outdoor woodpile, tuck your pants in your boots and wear gloves.

An Active Brown Recluse Spider

The hobo spider.

The hobo spider.

The Hobo Spider

The hobo spider is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and is often confused with the more common house spider. The hobo spider is a funnel-web spider, and its nests are easy to identify outdoors. It constructs the funnel-web and waits at the bottom for its prey.

This spider is aggressive but typically avoids humans. Bites by this spider usually occur when it is accidentally "mashed." Shake out shoes and boots before putting them on if you suspect that there could be hobo spiders in your area. Its bite is painful, and its venom can cause tissue death at the site of the bite.

An Active Hobo Spider

What Can You Do to Get Rid of Spiders?

Always exercise caution in areas where you suspect venomous spiders. Follow these steps to reduce your chances of an encounter:

  1. Get rid of your clutter: If you have a problem with spiders in your house, get rid of clutter and cardboard boxes. If you have a lot of clutter, you will have spiders. Put items stored under beds or in closets somewhere else. Consider having a yard sale to get rid of items you may no longer need. If you have boxes in a basement or an attic, get rid of those boxes. Spiders love clutter because it gives them a place to hide. Take away all of their hiding places.
  2. Wash your curtains: If you have curtains on your windows, take them down and wash them every 1–2 months. When you're carrying them to the washing machine, don't hold them up against your body. A lot of people get bitten handling linens every year. Always be thinking about spider safety.
  3. Cut back your tree branches: If your house is under trees, cut the branches back so they are not touching your home. Cut back any bushes that are touching your home as well. Branches and bushes give spiders a route into your house.
  4. Clean your gutters: Believe it or not, cleaning your gutters is very important if you want to keep spiders away from your house. If you do everything you can to make spiders feel unwelcome, they will leave.
  5. Managing serious Infestations: If you have an infestation, remove any old wood, logs, or timber from your property. It may be okay for the spiders to be outside, but when it gets cold, those spiders will come inside. Remove as many spider hiding places as you can from your yard.
  6. Wash your home with a pressure washer: You can use a pressure washer and a strong, soapy solution to wash down the outside of your home. Never let spider webs build up outside of your home or on your outside walls. Again, if those spiders are out there when it gets cold, they will try to find a way inside your home. Wash your house at the start of summer and in the late fall.
  7. Learn to identify spiders: Look at the pictures of the spiders in this article and learn to identify each spider species. It's especially important that you can identify poisonous spiders, too. You are welcome to download and print off the spider chart as a reference (pictured below).

Spider Identification: Black Widow, Brown Recluse, and Hobo

The venomous spiders of the United Sates are at the top of this quick reference chart.

The venomous spiders of the United Sates are at the top of this quick reference chart.

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.

Have any comments about venomous spiders? Post them now.

Ggggggh on December 31, 2019:

I am scared

Sandra Echols on July 14, 2018:

Just killed a quarter size black spider on my deck Black with large white wedge on back. Had deep red legs. Anyone know what it was?

Junkyjnz on May 04, 2018:

Not sure you realize this, but the description on the black widow describes a fiddle shaped red spot. That is inaccurate. It is an hourglass shape. The recluse has the violin shaped marking

Gama girl on May 21, 2016:

I get lots of dead wolf spiders in my pool. They must love swimming.

Gama girl on May 21, 2016:

Spiders= #socoolexceptposinous ones

Angel on October 10, 2015:

I found dead spider in bedroom. I guess it was black mouse spider and he was dead. Before I sprayed all house inside...I live in Florida. Mismi

greg martin on September 07, 2015:

a year ago me and my girlfriend of 11 years was on our back pourch smoking a cigarette while she was leaning against the sink a reddish broun spider fell from between the cabnets and stoo up on its back legs and attempted to bite her arm. I grabbed her and caught the spider, put it in a mason jar with a grass spider and it didn't move at all l I poked it with a tooth pick. when I did though it grabbed the other spider and bit it and soon as it let go the other spider curled up like it had been burnt. ive looked on the chart and all over the web and cant find a picture of it. it was brownish red on its body and as its legs went out it turned black. it was by far the most aggressive spider ive ever seen. we live in Columbus Mississippi can anyone help me figure out what it was?

Lindsay on May 07, 2015:

Lorenzo and author, the Spitting Spider spits venom.

Lindsay on May 07, 2015:

Um..I believe that Wolf Spider is eating something with wings..spiders do not have wings. Looks like he is sitting on top of a flying insect.

James Gorman on October 19, 2014:

I live in Knoxville. I literally just killed a spider that flew about 12 inches from me. When I went to swat it. Had to drop a magazine on it. And it had 8 legs and small wings. It jumped or flew about a foot in the air and was huge. So really don't care what people say

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on August 29, 2014:

I hoped it would be a great teaching tool to let people see what the dangerous spiders look like. I'm going to work on the page and add more to it.

Mary from Chicago area on August 29, 2014:

I've tried to teach my kids not to touch any spider with a bare hand, just in case it's a dangerous type. Not sure if they always follow that advice, but maybe if I show them this article they will!

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on July 30, 2013:

Amy your right. Spiders are an important part of our life. Do you know that every year that spiders eat more bugs than all the weight of all the humans on earth. Now that's a lot of bugs.

Amy on July 30, 2013:

I live in FL and idk if we have Hobo spiders but we def have Widows & Recluse. I have found neither to be aggressive but don't play with them either. I simply remove them carefully to an outside area if I'm able. Spiders are an integral part of the environment.

Josh Woods from United States on May 02, 2013:

Very informative. I have often found spiders in my mail box, but never a black widow. I see tones of Brown Recluses they like to keep around the bottom of the gutters of our house...behind and below them. I have also found them in cabinets. What a brown recluse venom can do to human flesh is disturbing.

When my wife and I first moved into our home, about 8 years ago, a lady who was walking near our house asked if we could take her to the convinced store a few miles down the road. I said I would give her a ride and she was supposed to be picked up by a friend there. On the way to the store I noticed the was picking at her leg in my car, I looked over and her leg looked like it was rotting. There was a large zombie flesh looking hole in her calf. She said a spider had bitten her a few days before, but she wasn't worried about it. I pleaded with her to let me take her to the hospital. She refused. I never saw her again, but I always wondered if it was a brown recluse bite on her leg.

I am honestly not too afraid of spiders...but cautious of course. I am however uneasy about any kind of bee. I always seem to get stung...bees either don't like me or every bee I come in contact with is made at the world. They seem so aggressive. I really appreciate your Homemade Bee Sting Remedies @ - Thanks for the awesome info CHG

Kilburnphobia on March 04, 2013:

Spiders are venomous not poisonous. Venomous organisms deliver or inject venom into other organisms, using a specialized apparatus of some kind (usually fangs or a stinger). Poisonous organisms, on the other hand, do not deliver their toxins directly. The entire body, or large parts of it, may contain the poisonous substance. These organisms may be harmful when eaten or touched.

FaZe Temperrr on September 04, 2012:

so my mom saw this huge web outside of our house. so she goes and get this bug spray thing and sprays it. then all of a sudden a huge spider we thought was a leaf opens up. it was about 2 inches long from one end of its foot to the other. she wants to know if its poisonous or not. we live in rockville, maryland. the spider was a medium shade of black and had reddish orange stripes on it arms and body

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on August 07, 2012:

Spiders are starting to move more now because believe it or not they know fall and cooler weather is coming.

Katie on August 07, 2012:

Sadly, my home in Florida is Red & Black Widow central. I don't know where they lie on the venom chart, but I do know they have some type of venom. I hate spiders with a passion, so I can't wait to move out of this house. They don't just hide in corners or boxes for me, they pop up in the middle of the bathroom, back porch, kitchen, etc. in a single night. I have to constantly look up to see if anything is dangling from a web. =( Bleck!

Brent on March 20, 2012:

I just had a Brown Recluse crawl down my leg while standing at the sink! Which is why I am here. I was bit on the wrist when I was very young, and was in the hospital for 5 days. I'm hoping I would have felt this thing bite me. I am itching all over now! Ahhhhhhh! Are they usually painful when they bite? I didn't feel it when I was a kid, which is why I'm asking!

Brad on March 15, 2012:

I live in Maryland. And I had a black widow in my bedroom. Compared to all of the other spiders I've killed it was 100x more aggressive. It would try to attack the my shoe, but my steel toe won the fight. It's easy to tell the difference between widows and non venomous spiders, and I know almost nothing about spiders, that widow was the only spider that tried to attack my foot. Sooo if they try to attack you chances are they are dangerous.

Sandra on January 04, 2012:

I am trying to find pictures of nests - but can't find any ????

Mahendra Singh Dhoni on December 02, 2011:

I don't like spideers at all.

harlee on November 12, 2011:

i hate spiders this made my fobia even worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Savannah on November 09, 2011:

Hey Everyone..... Where the heck did you all go? I'm here with my pal Maddie.... she may have a few of those disgusting brown recluses in her house... wouldn't be surprised. She says her grandmother died from a tarantula... Oh, and daddy longlegs are actually SPIDERS, not some odd fly... EEEW, and I know a rhyme. Bye!

Savannah on November 01, 2011:

Hi. I live in ky, so I see a lot of big, wolf spiders. I also see this chubby, brown, fuzzy spider.... I see them and it's around the size of a mouse.... I don't know if it's toxic or what but it scares the freaking crap out of me.... do any spider experts know it??? It crawls really fast.... EEW! I sincerely hate(and respect) these nightmarish creatures..... blugh. Anyone write back......

pjmobley on October 18, 2011:

In California, Daddy Long Legs are spiders (they live in webs and vibrate really fast if threatened). Crane Flies are flying insects that look like giant mosquitoes (we've also called them mosquito eaters).

Daddy Long Legs aren't supposed to be venomous - I heard that they can be but their mouths are too small to bite humans. Don't take my word for it though.

Loool on October 03, 2011:

Daddy long legs aren't poisonous at all kid. They're actually called a crane fly. Just a hideous fly really

Oreo on September 28, 2011:

spiders the word gives me goose bumps I live in England so I am pretty safe.Hey, can you tell me if daddy long legs are poisonous

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on September 20, 2011:

No a tarantula is not poison though it could make people sick with a bite. Especially those with allergies.

hmmm on September 20, 2011:

so a tarantula isn't deadly ok then

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on September 02, 2011:

It all depends on what it is. Can you find it on the spider id chart at the top of this hub page

christopher tepper on September 02, 2011:

is a black and brown spider deadly

StephenSMcmillan on August 09, 2011:

Great picture.

LaurahValentine on August 06, 2011:

Ughh!!! I'm from Idaho where every morning i'd wake up to 2 or 3 Hobo's in my shower. I'd have to drown them. I didn't know they were that dangerous.. Seeing them has always just been a way of life. But i recently moved to California and about a week ago i was laying in bed and a Black Widow was crawling across my neck! D: Eww. And to top it off, last night i was also laying in bed and a Brown Recluse was on my arm. Luckily, i've still never been bitten.

fashion on July 20, 2011:

Very informative hub.I also didn't know that the hobo and recoulous spiders were poisonous.I didn`t even know they are even spiders.Very well done

Secret2227 on July 12, 2011:

so F*****g scary does anyone know if there are any hobo spiders in michigan?

Sheila Louque on May 25, 2011:

We live in Port Deposit MD and have 2 toddlers. I cannot stress enough how diligent you must be in preventing death or extreme illness to a child or pet (or yourself). We are plagued with black widows and brown recluses. I have found them in the doorway of the shed, on the kids' swingset, crawling across our outside door in broad daylight! (and they're supposed 2 b nocturnal. I don't mess around - I use wasp spray and spray the heck out of everything - soapy water will just drive them to another area (prob closer to your back door!) I have bagged each one I've found after killing (I have hundreds!) In our area it is the northern BW that has 3 red spots on it's back - just as deadly, so don't be fooled looking just for an hourglass. If you see a glossy black spider - you can bet it's a BW - so kill it and search the area that you saw it - they don't travel far. Found them in the corners of a pop-up splash swimming pool as well - and in all our oak tree stumps where there's a hiding hole.

Dez on April 18, 2011:

I have been SOOO freaked out by spiders my whole life But this is very helpful..Nice to know there not all harmful to humans But still.. :)

Audrey on January 10, 2011:


Alexis on January 03, 2011:

I agree spiders are gross but it is very interesting about those spiders now I know about the hobo and the recoulous I didn't know the hobo and recoulous spiders were poisonous.I didn't even know they are even spiders.also very creative

emery on November 19, 2010:

this spiders a really bad thay might kill you if you got bit by one thers probely on cure to treat spider bites if you see a spider in your house call pet killer person or contact a person who kills spiders.

Cynthia on November 15, 2010:

I'm extremely terrified of spiders, big, small, tiny, hairy or not, they're all creepy looking and I find nothing 'cute' about any of them. But, this site has been helpful in knowing what not to fear.

Secret... on November 06, 2010:

ewwwww!who like spiders!!

I hate them !!!!!!! Thanks for the informations...

jonathan on September 30, 2010:

i am super terrified of spiders but fascinated at the same time. i like to know which ones i need to be careful around, besides all of them. i live in florida right next to the everglades so... yeah...

cameron Walsh on September 20, 2010:

I HATE SPIDERSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LoganTheWriter from Alabama on September 17, 2010:

If there was a spider that sprays venom and it hit you, nothing would happen bacause venom has to get into your bloodstream to work. I think there is a kind of spider that spits little bits of web to slow other bugs. Trap door spiders rock!

justin on September 03, 2010:

well i think i seen a Black Widow and a hobo spider living right next to echother but i dont know can i get some help on this

Debra Allen from West Virginia on August 27, 2010:

Yes they do and I just linked your hub with mine:

The spider that bit me was black, small, eyes could look right up at you and it had a white spt on it's upper side. Got one of those? I can't get a picture of the one that I am talking about, because I haven't seen one lately to take a picture of.

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on August 27, 2010:

Thanks everyone for your comments about spiders. Everyone needs to know what poisonous spiders look like.

Teya on August 21, 2010:

Gross i hate spiders now

james on August 21, 2010:

i have had a bad infestation of the brown recluse spiders in my home. i have a huge garage and i know they love it in there. i was recently bit by one and luckily i didn't get the worst of its bite. they can either give you necrosis (shown in the picturees above) or a more treatable type of skin poisoning called cellulitis. it can sometimes be treated at home but you are better off seeeking medical attention immediately. one way to tell the difference is cellulitis makes your skin very hard around the bite and necrosis begins to turn mushy as it is killing the skin and other tissue. i am getting ready to treat my home with a combination of sevin dust and permethrin (which all resaerch has told me this is the most lethal to spiders). i understand what spiders are on this planet for but when they start getting in the home and attacking its time for them to go. i will update when the results are in.

mia on August 19, 2010:

im 13 i live in maryland im am terrified of spiders the exterminator told me that they were regular house spiders but i am not sure i amm so scared i am crying just typing this umm... and they were gone for a while after he left but the y just started coming back they like something about my room because i always find them in there can you help me in some way please

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on August 18, 2010:

Thanks for all the great comments about spiders. They are appreciated. Thanks very much.

Brenda on August 18, 2010:

I personally don't freak out about spiders. I'd like to point out though, that there is a non-venomous spider known as the Wolf Spider, that is actually pretty good to have around your house. The bad news is, it can ver closely resemble a Hobo. I just discovered this tonight and I'm afraid some of the spiders on my back porch that I have been picking up...Might have been Hobo's. So, now, my normally brave and adventurous self, it's kinda creeped out and cowardly. Think's I'll be paying closer attention in the future.

brandi on August 11, 2010:

I hate spiders ... just a few hours ago one was crawling on my face freaked me out ....I never seen a black widow intell I moved here in my house or a hobo n I have both of them always in my house I almost got bit by a widow when I was pregnant ......I'm so afraid of spiders I panic n I cant get close enuff to kill them uless they cause a threat to my kids even some times I just my kids stay out of the where the spider is ....I hate them so much I usually cry when I see them or when they crawl on me ..... I'm afraid one of these spiders r gonna bite my kids n cause serious health problems how do I get the owners of the house that live upstairs from me do something about it

John McMillan on August 01, 2010:

Can you identify a spider I've found making a web every night in my crepe myrtle tree if I send a photo?

Whittnie on July 22, 2010:

Where can they be found at in a home?

We rencently found one in our shower.

nmn89 on July 10, 2010:

Omg! that is soo scary I just killed a fat hairy spider you pictured are helpful. ty

justin conley on June 27, 2010:

yeah screw spiders lol yes they kill mosquitoes but they r still not good and if any of yall have a problem with wat i just said tell it to the patch of dead rotten skin sitting on my shoulder (done by a brown recluse) :(

nick on June 08, 2010:

i hate spiders like every one else they should and for people that say they kill mosquitoes well let the non venomous ones kill the moquitos

nancy on May 26, 2010:

wow! i have lived around western washington over 40 yrs. i have the same natural tendencies to fear and freak about spiders but also have more fear of the tons of mosquitoes we get here in the mountain forest where we live.i have been a fairly strong spider supporter for their mosquito killing skills. last night i let a large one stay in my outdoor was on ceiling and looked nasty but i didn't want to judge by looks; but after reading this info i am 98%sure it was a hobo.I am also 100% sure i have seen tons of them all my life and never knew they were dangerous.i wish this info was more included im the local school curriculum! im counting my blessings now...thnx so much for the heads up!

gina on May 11, 2010:

ewww spiders are gossssss

lisa on May 08, 2010:

don't like those brown recluse spiders SCARED


aaron on April 25, 2010:

i hate spiders they can keep nature in balance out side!!!!! theres nothing in my house for them to eat they just bite me!! I just found one crawling up my shirt i have no clue what kind it it because it is tiny like a baby but it look alot like a brown recluse. in side im sick of them what do i do to get rid of them in my house forever...%$#%$#% they creep me out i hate them die die die stay out side. i hate bug spray but im going to get sticky traps and spray im gonna kill every thing tomorrow.

james on March 06, 2010:

lol im in scotland it's all safe for me bu i feel sorry for that guy :( and australia has more deadly spiders than america

unknown on February 22, 2010:


Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on December 17, 2009:

Yes I know everything in Australia is meaner and bigger. lol. But our Black Widow is still quite the deadly spider. As is the Brown Recluse.

Lol on December 09, 2009:

Those aren't real spiders. You should come to Australia!

Kittie Danger on November 27, 2009:

I hope people realize that spiders (like snakes) are "here" to keep nature in balance. Think of all of the bugs that they eat that spread diseases...diseases that can also kill, mosquitoes in particular spread malaria, and west nile virus, and even worse, these things you and your pet can die from, because they also spread heartworms. So, the next time you see a spider, don't be so quick to judge & executioner, they could indeed save your life by eating a 'killer' mosquito. Ya never know. Just something to think about.

huskhsoi on November 09, 2009:

omg there was a hobo spider in my room traped under a glass for 3 days until we figured out wat it was and killed it ughh its creepy then my mom made me feel stupid for bein scared when it's a very dangerous spider ughh i say again

alan on October 30, 2009:

wow so nasty man i feel so sick man it is so any one who touch spider man you die:{ i am sory for that person

alan on October 30, 2009:

man the finger is so nasty i feel sick but i am sorry for tha person

Rachelle on September 29, 2009:

The Hobo spider is native to Idaho. not the recluse

ampo on August 31, 2009:

spiders creep me out aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa i feel itch wen i saw them :(

Sarah from Washington State on August 27, 2009:

These articles on spiders are VERY good, crazyhorsesghost! I had a brown recluse spider bite on my foot several years ago in Georgia. The spider was in a pair of shoes I had purchased. When I stepped on a rock, I thought I had broken my little toe, but I had aggrevated the spider! So... it bit me!! Not knowing what had truly occurred, I did nothing for about 2 weeks. I had been eating elephant garlic by the clove for whatever reason, and it kept the venom concentrated in the one area. Keep in mind, that the bite of the brown recluse doesn't stay in one place. It is like the growth of the lilac bush, it goes "underground" and shoots up in other places, working its way to the heart. I had a wonderful wound doctor who took care of me when I finally went to the hospital with heart palpatations. They were from the bite. He helped me to recover and my wound was Healed within 2 months.

He is the only doctor I will Trust with my life, anymore!

God Bless! Keep up the good writings!

treehouseforest on June 30, 2009:

Does anyone know how I find poisonous spiders in Maryland? For some reason there are like seven different spiders hanging out and making webs on my small back porch and it's freaking me out.

-Nerlinks- on June 10, 2009:

wow cool nice info...i like spiders they look so cool to me...i have a spider of my own Cobalt blue... w00t!!!!

spartomic on May 31, 2009:

does anyone know if the brown recluse spider is native to idaho?

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on May 06, 2009:

There is not a Spider that sprays venom.

Lorenzo on May 06, 2009:

Can any spiders spray venom?

holyshit on April 23, 2009:

ahhh....ewww-thanks for the hobo spider warning i didn't know they were so dangerous....i see them everywhere! i will kill them more often...

kappa022 from Florida on March 30, 2009:

Very cool hub!

linjingjing on March 21, 2009:

Very creative