U.S. Poisonous Spiders: Black Widow, Brown Recluse, & Hobo
Poisonous Spiders of the United States
There are three poisonous 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
There are three distinct species of the black widow spider in the United States and all three are poisonous. 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 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 wood pile, tuck your pants in your boots and wear gloves.
An Active Brown Recluse 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 their 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
If you are bitten by a black widow spider seek emergency medical attention immediately.
What Can You Do to Get Rid of Spiders?
Always exercise caution in areas where you suspect poisonous spiders. Follow these steps to reduce your chances of an encounter:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
More Information About Poisonous Spiders
- How to Identify Maryland Spiders
The only naturally occurring poisonous spider in Maryland is the Black Widow spider. Learn how to identify several other spider species, their habitats, behaviors, and what you can do to deter them.
- Poisonous Spiders In North Carolina
The black widow spider and the brown recluse spider are the two poisonous spiders in our state. Good housekeeping can reduce the risk of being bitten by them.