Identifying Dangerous Spiders Around Your Home

dangerous spiders

As humans, our collective fear of spiders has become so sensitive that we shriek at even a semblance of a spider, such as a balled up piece of string hanging from a freshly washed shirt, or a small black speck on the carpet. Despite our fears, not every spider is dangerous and needs an immediate “whack!”

Since spiders can all look the same from a distance, it can be hard to tell which ones are friends––or acquaintances—and which ones are foes. Vulcan’s helpful guide is here to shed some light on how to identify dangerous spiders around your home. 

Foe #1: The Black Widow Spider

In most instances, if you were to ask someone what spider they think of when they think of a dangerous spider, a black widow is probably one of the first spiders that comes to mind. 

With a striking red hourglass featured between a sleek, shiny, onyx body, the black widow stands out in broad daylight as a spider not to be tampered with. Whether the red mark is in the shape of an hourglass or a simple red dot, it is safe to assume that any shiny black spider with a bulbous abdomen falls under this category. 

Males of this species are smaller, shyer, and less venomous than their female counterparts. Instead of boasting a glossy black abdomen, they’re usually thin and mottled brown or gray. 

Where are Black Widows found?

Like cockroaches, black widows can be found anywhere in the United States providing there is:

  • Ample food supply
  • A stable source of warmth
  • Dark places

Black Widow Bites
If you are bitten by a black widow, the first sign is two red marks. Some spider bites are “dry” and no venom is injected. However, if venom is injected, then the following symptoms are often muscle cramps, fever, and nausea. If this happens, head to the ER immediately. 

Foe #2: The Brown Recluse Spider

While the black widow tops the charts as the most dangerous spider, people often forget of its extremely venomous counterpart––the brown recluse. Unlike the black widow, the brown recluse is not always easily identifiable. The famed “violin shape,” which is supposed to be the telltale sign for this species, is actually not confined to brown recluses. 

The only foolproof way of identifying these tricky arachnids is to count their eyes. Instead of having eight eyes like most spiders, brown recluses only have six eyes. Also, their legs are smooth with no thick hairs.

Where are Brown Recluses Found?

Brown recluses don’t often stray further west than the Rocky Mountains, and rarely venture north of Nebraska. They prefer dark, quiet, and warm places to raise their young.

Brown Recluse Bites

A bite from a brown recluse turns nasty really quick. Red itching skin is the first symptom of a bite of a brown recluse spider. The area then develops into a blister, followed by an open sore, which in turn is accompanied by a rash of tiny red dots. Fever and nausea can also occur. 

If you are bitten by a brown recluse, see a doctor immediately. The venom of a brown recluse causes necrosis, or the death of tissue, which can take a long time to heal.

Foe #3: The Hobo Spider

The hobo spider is one that more people should be aware of, but one that easily gets misidentified as a brown recluse. At a glance, both species of spider look similar from their bite patterns down to their bite symptoms. On second glance though, it’s hard to misidentify hobo spiders, as they have a mottled coloration and distinctive “herringbone” patterns on their abdomen. Their legs also have thick hair, unlike the brown recluse. 

Where are Hobo Spiders Found?

The hobo spider was introduced to the Port of Seattle from Europe in the late 1920s, and they have since spread throughout the Northwestern United States and Western Canada. 

Hobo Spider Bites

Reported hobo spider bites have had similar symptoms to the bites of brown recluse spiders, though no fatalities have been reported. Research around hobo spider bites is still inconclusive, as experts are not able to identify whether the hobo spider is associated with dangerous bites. 

Friend #1: The Jumping Spider

Probably one of the most common household spiders is the jumping spider. If you ever see one of these little guys hopping around on your furniture, don’t be alarmed! These spiders are in the pest control business, and will get rid of a lot of bugs for you. 

Jumping spiders have excellent vision, as their giant eyes would suggest, and can see better than any other spider in the world. Their vision helps aid them in the quest to find food. Because of their speed and eyesight, jumping spiders are capable of catching prey larger and more venomous than themselves. 

Friend #2: The Giant House Spider

Just because these spiders are quite large doesn’t mean you should fear them. The giant house spider has a horrible reputation and causes a lot of panic in Northwestern homes because it is easily mistaken for the hobo spider. 

While there isn’t a definite way to distinguish the two at a glance, giant house spiders tend to be more yellowish in color, with black stripes on the abdomen. In addition to their coloration, giant house spiders can boast lengths of up to four inches, while the hobo spider will typically only span a modest inch. 

Friend #3: The Common House Spider

Unlike the adventurous giant house spider and active jumping spider, common house spiders are more quiet, docile spiders that prefer to keep in a corner of your garage or basement. Sometimes referred to as “cobweb spiders,” they are gray to brown in color, with speckling similar to the mottling on bird eggs. 

Due to their size and shape, common house spiders are sometimes misidentified as black widows, but it’s important to note the color of the spider before jumping to conclusions. Common house spiders are not black and have no red markings. 

These spiders are passive hunters, meaning that they make webs and wait for prey to come to them. They are excellent pest control agents, and will keep the number of destructive moths, flies, and mosquitoes down. 

They pose no threat to humans, and will happily spin away undisturbed in the corner of your garage or basement. 

Spiders give people the creeps. Be it their long, venomous fangs, their gangly eight legs, or their otherworldly eight eyes––but not all of them are a threat! If you have spiders in your home, it’s best to identify their species before grabbing the flyswatter. Some spiders are in your home to help you, not hurt you.

If you suspect spider activity in your home, call Vulcan Termite & Pest Control Inc. We’ll be happy to treat your home!