Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa)
Predominantly found in the Midwest and Southeast of the United States, the brown recluse spider gets its name from its color and, well, nocturnal and reclusive nature. It prefers to reside in warm, dry, and dark environments, such as drawers, basements, closets, and attics. In nature, meanwhile, they’re commonly found under and in crevices of rocks.
These baddies usually eat insects and other spiders, not humans. But if you somehow reach into a box in the basement or try to wear a piece of clothing where a brown recluse has made its home, be prepared for a…slight sting.
No, really. A brown recluse bite may feel nothing at first, and you may not even know when it bit you. But within several hours after the bite, things can get a lot nastier.
The bite area may redden, and a blister may form after. You may also feel mild to intense pain and itching 2 to 8 hours after the bite. And within a week, an open sore may develop with some form of necrosis (a breakdown of tissue), which could take several weeks or months to heal, leaving deep scars. Aside from the wound, bite victims can also suffer from nausea, fever, muscle aches, and in rare cases, severe skin complications.
Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium)
With a body length of around 3 to 15mm, yellow sac spiders are relatively small spiders found nearly everywhere in the U.S. as well as in Mexico. These critters tend to be very pale, with a color that ranges from yellow to beige, or even greenish.
Haven’t seen a yellow sac spider yet? You might wanna check your walls or ceilings because these critters are known to build their resting sacs (instead of a web) indoors! Just make sure you don’t disturb them too much because while these critters are small, they can deliver quite a nasty bite.
Yellow sac spider bites are often confused for a brown recluse’s since bite symptoms are similar–an initial stinging sensation followed by redness and mild swelling. A blister may also form, but is typically less severe and is likely to heal much faster than brown recluse bites.
Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans)
Black widows are some of the most feared critters in America. They usually thrive in temperate climates throughout the United States, mostly in the South and West, and make their home around dark, dry sheltering places. These include wood piles, rodent holes, basements, inside unused blankets and shoes, and deck crevices.
Nocturnal and shiny, the easiest way to identify a black widow is to look for the red hourglass-shape under their abdomen.
Male black widows are practically harmless–it’s the leggy ladies that you should be concerned about! Female black widows are notorious for making a post-coital snack out of their counterparts (hence the spider’s name), and their venom is said to be 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake’s.
While this web-weaving femme fatale is indeed dangerous, black widows aren’t aggressive creatures and only attack when they feel cornered and threatened. But when they do bite, they don’t usually kill.
Its bite, which can sometimes feel like a little pinprick, may cause minor swelling, redness, and a target-shaped sore to the area. Muscle aches and cramps, nausea, and difficulty breathing may also occur. Fortunately, black widow bites don’t often lead to serious complications. Still, bites can be fatal to small children, the elderly, and infirm.
Brown Widow Spider (Latrodectus geometricus)
The black widow’s lesser-known cousin, brown widow spiders also feature a prominent hourglass-shaped marking on the abdomen, albeit orange or yellow in color.
Originally from South Africa, this arachnid immigrant can now be found in many areas of the United States, including Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and even in the urban areas of Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding suburbs.
They may not look the part, but brown spiders are quite timid and shy! They prefer to settle in dark and undisturbed areas, such as in outhouses and sheds, wood piles, and outdoor furniture. They may also show up in eaves, porch railings, and stationary garbage cans.
Like its much-feared cousin, brown spiders have a neurotoxic venom, which can cause muscle pain, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. But between the two (and assuming you have a choice in the matter), it’s better to get bitten by a brown widow because while its venom is about twice as potent as the black widow, it tends to inject only half as much.
Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasselti)
Redback spiders are the Australian cousins of black widows. The female redback spider is easy to spot with its jet black body and prominent red stripe on the back. The males, on the other hand, are considerably smaller than the females and are light brown with white or yellow stripes instead of red.
Like the female black widow, the female redback also displays sexual cannibalism while mating. And no, don’t feel sorry for her partner because the male redback actually assists the femme fatale in this process!
Nocturnal and characteristically aggressive, the female redback is capable of harming humans. In fact, they’re responsible for a majority of reported spider bites in Australia. This could be because they prefer to live in urban areas, especially near or around human homes.
The venom of the redback spider is believed to have similar effects as its other Lactrodectus cousins. It starts with a mild burning sensation around the bite area, which then progresses into an intense, localized pain along with local sweating and goosebumps. Victims may also develop systemic symptoms after a few hours, such as nausea, headache, abdominal or chest pain, vomiting, and hypertension. These may linger for weeks or even months.
Six-Eyed Sand Spider (Sicarius hahni)
Sit and wait. That’s the mantra of the six-eyed sand spider, a close relative of the brown recluse who loves to lurk in the deserts and other sandy places in southern Africa.
There’s a slim chance that you’ll cross paths with these sand-loving critters because they’re extremely shy and don’t actively roam in search of their next meal. Instead, they bury themselves in sand or dry soil to blend into their habitat. But once an unlucky victim happens to wander too closely, the six-eyed sand spider wastes no time–it pounces at its dinner with its front legs, kills it with venom, and devours it!
The good news is that it is unlikely to bite humans. The bad news? Its venom is so potent it can kill skin tissues and cause red blood cells to burst faster than they can be produced! (Or as described by the video above, this deadly spider’s venom can be “a combination of fast-acting leprosy and severe ebola.” Yikes.)
Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria)
Remember one incident a few years back when a family discovered that a deadly spider was delivered to their South London home—via a bunch of bananas? Turns out, that arachnid was the Brazilian wandering spider, one of the world’s most venomous spiders!
Mainly found in tropical South and Central America, the Brazilian wandering spider is of the genus Phoneutria, which is derived from the Greek word for “murderess”. So you can say that this creeper is definitely up to no good!
With bodies reaching up to 2 inches and leg spans of about 5-6 inches, Brazilian wandering spiders are indeed large, intimidating critters that actively search for prey instead of waiting at a spider web. And while they rarely bite humans unless startled or aggravated, you can’t be too comfortable because when they do bite, they mean business!
Their venom contains a potent neurotoxin, which at deadly concentrations, can cause nausea, loss of muscle control, and breathing problems, leading to paralysis and eventual asphyxiation. Plus, if you happen to be male, well, say hello to an excruciating four-hour hard-on!
Sydney Funnel Web Spider (Atrax robustus)
If death from a spider bite is the last thing on your mind, then better stay away from the Land Down Under because the title of the “World’s Deadliest Spider” belongs to the Aussie arachnid, the Sydney funnel web spider.
Sydney funnel web spiders are large, brown bulky spiders native to eastern Australia. These baddies are more common inland and prefer to live in cold, damp environments, such as moist sand, under logs or foliage. They get their name from the characteristic funnel webs they create, which they line with sticky silk to trap their prey.
So what exactly makes these eight-legged creepers the deadliest of them all? For starters, they have the most impressive fangs of any spider–they have large, rearward-facing fangs that can pierce through shoe leather and even fingernails.
And you know just what their needle-sharp fangs carry? A venom so toxic it can kill humans in 15 minutes! The victim may instantly experience severe symptoms, such as muscle spasms, profuse sweating, drooling, vomiting, confusion, and even swelling of the brain.
What’s worse is that this Aussie arachnid continues to bite until it is detached from the skin, which ups the spider’s chances of injecting more venom to their victim.
What to Do if You Get Bitten by a Spider
First things first, check if you can shoot a web from your wrist.
No? Then follow these next steps:
- Keep calm and clean the bite area. Use mild soap and water to prevent infection.
- Apply cool compress. Get an ice pack or a cloth dampened with cold water and apply it to the bite area on and off for 10 minutes. This will reduce swelling and lessen itching.
- Relieve minor symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain medication. Aspirin and antihistamines may help to relieve minor symptoms, such as mild pain and itching.
- Seek medical attention. If you find yourself having extreme reactions, such as a rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing, or if the victim is a child or an older adult, seek medical attention immediately. An antivenin (a.k.a. antivenom) may be prescribed to avoid further infection and control symptoms, and is fortunately available for many kinds of bites (except for six-eyed sand spider bites, that is).
Feel anything crawling on your skin yet?
Getting bitten by any of these deadly spiders isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, for sure. But if you ever find yourself face to face with these eight-legged critters, keep in mind that none of them would actually go out of their way to hunt or attack us, and would rather stay in their webs (or hidden in their funnels, buried in sand, or in banana plants) than socialize with humans.
So calm down, be sure to put on your gloves and boots when working outside, and stay away from the blowtorch, please. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you as well.
Have you ever been bitten by a spider? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!