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How to Identify Venomous House Spiders

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Shaddie is an arachnid enthusiast who hopes to combat society's widespread disdain for spiders through education.

How to identify venomous house spiders.

How to identify venomous house spiders.

House Spiders: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Afraid of

"Oh my God, kill it! KILL IT!"

Outbursts like these are common throughout much of the United States and, indeed, the world, when a spider's cover is blown, and it is forced to skitter this way and that along the wall or across the living room carpet to avoid being, as suggested above, speedily smashed.

It is unfortunate that so many of these harmless eight-legged critters have to pay such a price for our unfounded fears and instinctive squishing behaviors, especially since they work so hard to rid our homes of ever creepier (in the author's personal opinion) pests such as silverfish, fleas, bed bugs, gnats, and flies.

I find that the basis for most fears of spiders is the fact that most people don't know the difference between those that are harmful to humans and those that are perfectly capable of coexisting with us peacefully. And so, in the spirit of enlightenment, I have devised a way to help any and all who are curious learn about which spiders pose a danger and which do not.

"Be careful of me. I don't want to bite, but if I do, I can pack quite a punch!"

"Be careful of me. I don't want to bite, but if I do, I can pack quite a punch!"

Biggest Threats

The leading ladies and gentlemen on this list are of course the ever-beautiful female Latrodectus hesperus (black widow spider) and her renowned accomplice the Loxosceles reclusa (brown recluse spider). The runner-up to and lesser-known than these two is Tegenaria agrestis (hobo spider).

Black Widow

Female black widows are perhaps the most easily identifiable spider in human history. The striking red markings on their undersides are a dead giveaway to their species. Whether the red mark is in the shape of an hourglass or simply a dot, it is safe to assume that any shiny black spider with a bulbous abdomen falls under this category.

The males of this species are smaller, shyer, and less venomous than their female counterparts. In fact, there has been much speculation as to whether or not they are more deadly than the common garden spider! Also, they look nothing like females; they're thin and usually mottled brown or gray.

Black widows, like cockroaches, can be found anywhere in the United States providing there is:

  • A stable source of heat (such as a human dwelling)
  • An ample supply of food (flies, woodlice, other spiders, etc.)
  • Dark places (the space under your bed, in your shoe closet, etc.)

They are more prominent in warmer states because they can breed and catch food outside. Natural enemies of this spider do exist and consist mainly of wasps such as the blue mud dauber and the spider wasp.