The Most Dangerous Spiders In Your Home

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Venomous spiders found in the United States include the black widow, brown recluse and hobo spiders. They can be dangerous to adults and children who spend time outside. These spiders occasionally find their way inside structures or buildings and can present a serious risk.

The Top Venomous Spiders

These are the spiders you don't want to find in your home!

Black Widow Spider

Black widow spiders are most common in the southern and western areas of the United States.  In fact they are often found throughout North America. They can be recognized by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of their abdomen. Black widows are usually found in yards with undisturbed woodpiles, garden sheds, under eaves, fences and other areas where debris has accumulated. They can also be found living in outdoor toilets where flies are plentiful.

Also keep an eye out for the brown widow spider. A cousin of the black widow, these spiders feature a light brown or gray body, striped legs and an orange hourglass on their abdomen. 

The black widow spider builds webs between objects and bites occur when humans come into direct contact with these webs. A bite from a black widow can be recognized by the two puncture marks it makes in the skin. The venom is a painful neurotoxin that is injected into the bite area and then spreads to the chest, abdomen or the entire body.

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Brown Recluse Spider

Brown recluse spiders, sometimes called violin spiders, are most commonly found in the Midwestern and southern states of the United States. They are brown in color with a characteristic dark violin-shaped or fiddle-shaped marking on its head. These spiders have six equal-sized eyes where most spiders have eight eyes. Brown recluse spiders are usually found in homes with secluded, dry, sheltered areas such as underneath structures, logs, or in piles of rocks or leaves. If a brown recluse spider does wander indoors, they may be found in dark closets, shoes, or attics.

The brown recluse spiders do not usually bite humans unless something traps the spider against the skin. Bites will cause a stinging sensation with localized pain. A small white blister usually develops at the site of the bite. The brown recluse spider’s venom can cause a severe lesion by destroying skin tissue. Skin lesions will require professional medical attention.

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Hobo Spider

The hobo spider is common throughout the Pacific Northwest. It tends to be large and brown with a distinct pattern of yellow markings on its abdomen. Unlike other similar looking spiders, hobo spiders do not have dark bands on their legs. To catch their prey, the hobo spider builds a funnel web in holes, cracks and recesses. They are usually found in outdoor places with retaining walls, in foundations, window wells and stacks of firewood or bricks.

Indoors, hobo spiders will nest between boxes or other storage items, on windowsills, under baseboard heaters or radiators, behind furniture and in closets. The Pacific Northwest hobo spider does not climb like most spiders but they are fast runners. They are much more likely to attack when provoked or threatened. The bite of a hobo spider may go unnoticed with a moderate to severe, slow-healing wound.

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Symptoms Of Spider Bites

Spider bites can vary from minor to severe. Death can occur in the most severe cases. Common symptoms resulting from a spider bite can include the following:

  • itching or rash 
  • pain radiating from the site of the bite 
  • muscle pain or cramping 
  • red or purple colored blister 
  • increased sweating 
  • difficulty breathing   
  • headache 
  • nausea and vomiting    
  • fever 
  • chills 
  • anxiety or restlessness    
  • high blood pressure

Good Spiders In The Home

Some spiders actually help lower the population of fleas, mites and moths. They pose no danger to pets, children or adults in the home. The good guys include jumping spiders, the common house spider and the gentle giant house spider.

Jumping Spider

Spiders hopping around your furniture are most likely jumping spiders. This curious spider is one of the best in the pest-ridding business. They have a uniquely large eye pattern and an inquisitive behavior. When approached, instead of scurrying away like other spiders would, the jumping spider will jump and turn to face the aggressor, or look up and study them.

Because of their speed and eyesight, jumping spiders are capable of killing larger prey. They can snatch flies out of the air.

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Common House Spider

The common house spider prefers to live quietly in a corner of the garage or basement. Sometimes called cobweb spiders, they are usually gray or brown in color, with speckling on their abdomen. Because of their similar size and shape, common house spiders are frequently mistaken for black widow spiders. Common house spiders are not black and do not have red markings.

Common house spiders are passive hunters; they make a web and wait for prey to come to them. They are excellent at keeping the numbers of destructive moths, flies, and mosquitoes down, and will even kill wasps and yellow jackets. They are content to live quietly by a window in the attic or basement and pose no threat to humans.

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Giant House Spider

The giant house spider has a bad reputation in Northwestern homes because it is easily mistaken for the hobo spider. There is no perfect way to distinguish the two at a quick glance; the giant house spider tends to be more yellow in color, with a distinctive black stripe on the abdomen. They can reach a leg span of 4-inches, while the hobo spider will typically remain a modest 1-inch.

Because of their size, the giant house spider is able to take care of a larger number of its prey, as well as take on much bigger insects. The giant house spider's venom is harmless, no worse than a bumblebee's sting. They actually kill and eat hobo spiders, making them an excellent addition to any crawlspace, basement, or garage. The giant house spider is actually considered the best deterrent against a hobo spider invasion.

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No manmade pesticide  or trap is more effective against a population of harmful insects than a family of spiders. They deserve better recognition for the work they do. 

Last Updated: March 21, 2013
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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