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A Look At Venomous Spiders

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: August 1, 2022
A Look At Venomous Spiders

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There are venomous spiders all over the world. The scary thing about spiders is that they are small and hide in places. While most spiders really cannot do much to harm you, they are still pesky and create webs that you have to clean up.

This post is meant to show you some of the more common venomous spiders out there and a few tips on avoiding and eliminating spiders.

Unfortunately, with most spider bites the options for treatment are somewhat limited. Those that are treated at the doctor’s office often involve antibiotics if the infection has already occurred or if it seems likely and possible treatment for allergic reactions.

While you may be thinking that you keep your place nice and tidy and spray for spiders and such, during a long emergency or SHTF you may find that conditions cannot be kept at the same level. You may also find that you have to sleep and stay at places that you might never have imagined.

Spider habitat ranges vary and can change.

I am not including maps of where all these spiders exist because I think they are not the most accurate in modern times. Spiders can show up in some weird areas because things move around a lot. Weather patterns and other natural factors can extend or decrease the range of a species over time. If you live on the borderline of a specific spider’s territory, then there are probably a few around.

Brown Recluse

Out of all the spiders in the world, this one is the scariest to me even though I live in an area where Black Widows are very common. While a Black Widow may sting or make you feel sick, the Brown Recluse can lead to extreme tissue necrosis and loss. This means that infections can be a likely result when bites are not treated. Some people may not realize that a spider bite is the cause of their dilemma until they have waited a long time and tissue death has occurred.

The Brown Recluse likes to hide just as the name implies. While the habitat for this spider is mostly the Deep South and up through the MidWestern United States, it is important to note that spiders can sometimes be found all over the country. Part of the reason for this is how mobile people are and how far goods travel.

A Brown Recluse bite is often not noticeable or even painful. In fact, a lot of bites do nothing more than make someone itchy. The problem is that when a bite is bad it can be very bad. If you have a spot that looks like a bug bite and it starts to get worse regardless of typical topical at-home treatments, it is time to have it looked at by a medical professional, especially if you live in an area where Brown Recluse are more common.

Black Widow

The Black Widow spider exists in the Southern United States but they are found in other parts of the world including southern Europe and Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America.

The Black Widow is considered the most venomous spider in the USA. In fact, their venom is said to be 15 times more potent than a Rattlesnake. Luckily they are a lot smaller and have a lot less venom!

Although they are very common, it is rare for someone to get bitten by one because they like to hide. Females average about 1.5 inches in diameter and have a red hourglass on their abdomen. Males are about half that size and they are lighter in color with red or pink spots. They are not a threat in terms of biting.

Males are far less common than females. After the female mates with a male, she eats him. He pays a steep cost for the mating experience. Although Black Widows have eggs sacs that produce 100s of baby spiders, a lot do not make it because they eat each other. It is truly survival of the fittest.

Wearing a good pair of gloves when doing farm chores can prevent a lot of bites. If you live in the South you learn to just be careful when turning over things that have been sitting for a while. When in doubt, get a stick and turn something over so you have a chance to take a look before picking it up with bare hands.

Hobo Spider

hobo spider

This is a really scary spider in a lot of ways because they can intrude on your space by coming in via shipping containers and goods. Since so many items are shipped a great distance, a lot more people have had the unfortunate experience of coming into contact with the Hobo Spider no matter how clean or immaculate they keep their living space.

Hobos sometimes like to build their webs near houses and buildings. They don’t always hide out as much as their name implies. If you research this spider you will find that there is some debate as to how toxic it really is. The Center For Disease Control claims that isolated cases of tissue necrosis as a result of bites means that some people may have a very negative reaction to bites but there is not enough data to declare just how venomous the spiders actually are. Better to be safe than sorry!

Red Widow Spider

This is a very similar spider to the Black Widow although much rarer. These are mostly found in Florida. There have been no major cases of bites recorded but the venom is supposed to be comparable to that of the Black Widow.

The Red Widow is found mostly in Pines near sand dunes. This limited range makes it not as likely to have any major contact with humans.

The Brown Widow Spider

The Brown Widow is more common than the Red Widow. It is found in many areas of the United States including Hawaii. This is a spider that is widespread in tropical areas around the world as well. While the venom is toxic, it doesn’t spread out as much as the Black Widow’s venom can. If you are bitten by a Brown Widow there will be localized bite pain, swelling, and irritation but symptoms will vary based on how sensitive you are.

Wolf Spider

The Wolf Spider comes in various subspecies with varying toxicity levels. At worst the bites can be necrotic but typically they are just painful and accompanied by swelling, itching, and other irritation. It should be noted that Wolf Spiders usually do not inject venom unless provoked a lot.

The Wolf Spider generally keeps to themselves and hide in deep webs and tunnels. They may have a trapdoor to their lair too. In North Carolina, we have the largest subspecies of this spider. The body can be up to an inch long which is pretty big for a spider.


Although the tarantula bite is not deadly, it is extremely painful and may lead to some thinking that they are experiencing something that is life-threatening. Tarantulas are sometimes kept as “pets”. This may seem pretty amazing to those of us that are not spider fans. It is a pretty rare pet to have.

In some parts of the USA, tarantulas are native so they are something that you may have to deal with like it or not. Luckily these are really huge spiders that are easy to spot and avoid. They are very slow-moving too. A bite is rare because they are not a really fast or aggressive animal.

So if someone asks if you want to hold a pet spider, I wouldn’t do it without gloves. The bite is supposed to feel a lot like a bee sting. The venom is very weak thus a lot of people don’t realize that tarantulas have any risk factor.

Funnel Web Spider

Note: You are not likely to ever run into one of these but I am putting the Funnel Web in here as an example of how important it is to be aware of what is possible in a new area or if you are traveling to a foreign land.

Although these are just found in Australia, I think they are worth pointing out because they are considered one of the most toxic spiders in the world. it doesn’t take much of their venom to kill an adult. I am thankful that these do not exist currently in the warm parts of our Southern United States. We have enough biting and stinging things without something like this!

The males are encountered more than the females because they wander around when it is warm outside and search for females. The Funnel Web Spider can survive in water for 24 hours so even if they looked drowned, they might not be.

The spider has really huge fangs and the bite is very noticeable and painful. These spiders can be very aggressive and bite multiple times. Children are the most likely victims with one of the more famous bite cases occurring when a 10-year-old boy put on his shoe and got a bite that required a lot of antivenom to overcome.

Any spider bite that causes a severe reaction should be dealt with by a medical professional. During an SHTF situation, this may not be possible. In that case, there are a few basic things you can do to prevent spider poison from spreading. If you have strong allergic reactions then allergy medications can help alleviate some symptoms. Epi-Pen users should try to have an extra one around if they are very sensitive to insect bites.

Washing the area well with hot soapy water or using a snake bite kit to draw out as much venom as possible can help reduce the severity of symptoms. Charcoal salves can help prevent the venom from spreading as rapidly and absorb some of the harmful compounds.

How you respond to a spider bite can vary a lot.

There are many factors at play when it comes to spider bites. There are some people that just feel a bit sickly even if they get bit by a Black Widow whereas another person may get deathly ill.

Children and those with compromised immune systems or other health issues can experience more severe reactions. It is best to get medical attention just to be safe. Spider bites are very treatable but they need to be looked at sooner rather than later. If you wait too long there is more likelihood of major tissue damage or even tissue necrosis and loss.

Preventing Spiders Around Your Home and Property

There are many ways to prevent spiders that do not involve poisons. I am going to include some natural solutions and some chemical solutions as well. Some of the natural solutions are not appropriate for some areas.

Free Range Chickens or Guinea Fowl

Matt and I have been known to get pretty annoyed at chickens hanging out around the house a lot. For a while, we did not have any chickens and then we noticed just how many Black Widow spiders were under all the rocks and firewood. It was pretty awful.

We got some chickens and the problem has basically been eliminated. Guinea Fowl are a lot louder than chickens so if you want something that will act as a bit of an alarm if something is creeping around, Guinea Fowl will do that and keep the spiders away. Chickens are a more reasonable solution for most people and they are allowed in many towns as long as you don’t keep a rooster. Your local rules may limit how many chickens you have and you will have to put up a fence to keep them on your place.

Avoid leaving piles of debris for a long time

It is easy to pile up a lot of brush and wood. Big piles of stuff are perfect spider habitat.

Piling up lawn furniture, tools, or anything really can lead to a lot of spiders and they might even damage your stuff. We try to put our items up in totes or plastic bags if they are not going to be used for quite some time.

Use caution even in the winter months.

Don’t assume that just because it is winter time that a spider isn’t lurking in the warmer parts of a woodpile or brush pile. While spiders are slower to react and burrowed deeper down in the winter, you should still be careful. Spiders will freeze to death but sometimes they appear to be dead when they really are not.

Seal up cracks and crevices

Sealing up any cracks and crevices and installing good door sweeps can prevent spiders from making their way into buildings. Paintable caulking and foam in a can sealants are easy to use, dry fast, and they will improve the energy efficiency of your home so you save some money on heating and cooling costs over the years.

Always wear thick gloves when cleaning up piles of stuff inside or outside.

Piles of old clothing are notorious for spiders. There have been a lot of cases where piles of clothing have contained Brown Recluse Spiders.

Items placed near doorways can be susceptible to spiders.

The time I found a Black Widow in my house it was beside the trash can near the door. We quickly made a point to seal things better and dust around the trash can more often.

Spiders can come in on pets.

Dogs and cats with thick fur may have some passengers when they come in the door. This is why it is important to make sure the areas they hang out in are not prime spider habitat. Our dogs hang out in the woods and fields a lot but since we have chickens roaming, we don’t have a bit problem with them bringing in spiders. Bedding areas and barn areas should be treated for spiders and bedding should be cleaned out or changed regularly.

Keep a skin barrier between you and the outside world.

I might not have put that so well but if you find that you have to sleep in a place that seems to have a lot of bugs or spiders, then you need to do what you can to protect your skin. Sleeping with more clothing on or in a good sleeping bag that you can cinch up can help.

In a hot climate, this is a reason to have a very lightweight bag. Sleeping in your clothes is another option. You can stay in some pretty awful places and not get bit or stung by things. My Dad told me about staying in places with masses of Scorpions in the jungle of Vietnam and he cannot remember any of them getting bit.

Shake out gloves and bedding when they have been stored or when out in the bush.

Spiders and other creepy crawlies like to hide in places. In the South, we always beat our gloves against something in case of spiders.

Keep a snake and insect bite kit on hand.

Spider Repellents

For repellents, I will refer you to my complete article on the subject. However, I will list a few solutions covered in that post as well. Sometimes you may want to take drastic measures at first and then use some of the other solutions later. I like to use natural things too but if I had a bad enough problem, I might spray something a little more toxic at first. For example, spraying permethrin is not a natural solution but I would consider it for bad infestations.

Natural Spider Repellents

  • Borax and Diatomaceous Earth
  • Tobacco Leaves or Emulsion
  • Baking Soda and Diatomaceous Earth
  • Essential oils such as Tea Tree, Peppermint, Lavender, Citronella, Citrus Oils and Blends, Eucalyptus, and Cedar

Do you have any spiders to add to this list? With literally hundreds or thousands of varieties of spiders out there, I sure might have missed one that is problematic in your area. Please share in the comments below. Have you ever had a bite that was complicated to heal?

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5 Responses to “A Look At Venomous Spiders”

  1. Australia, our black widow version is called the ‘redback spider’ similar appearance and venom with red marking on the back. They have become quite urban especially in Adelaide. A friend once put underwear on from a clean basket of washing and got bit on the privates – spent 10 days in hospital no anti-venom as she was slower to react, but she says she could smell the toxins being released through her skin all over.
    Thanks for the article it’s a relief to know we aren’t the only country with heaps of venomous spiders.

  2. Lady cook met me at the door after work one day. Seems that one of the beasts had escaped and was hiding in a big bag of rice. When she reached in….and the rest is history. Oh, she was not bitten…just mad!

  3. This is funny now but wasn’t at the time. I lived in Haiti for a few years and decided I needed a pet. Foolishly, I told some neighborhood kids I’d give them a quarter for a tarantula. Well, 12 spiders later…and although I kept them I wire cages, my very large and formidable laady

  4. I was bitten once by what I think was a brown recluse. The tissue rotted out around the bite after a few days and I ran a bit of a fever. I cleaned it out with peroxide and kept it covered while I worked. The lesson I learned, as a young teen, was that when cleaning out that dead tissue and you see a small white object in it you don’t grab it with tweezers and pull. That was an open nerve. When I got my senses back about me and lifted myself up from between the toilet and cabinet I made a hard mental note that I’ve yet to forget.

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