Spiders are usually associated with our fear of creepy, crawly things. A severe fear of spiders is known as Arachnophobia. Some people fear them based on their look, size, or bite while others fear them in general.
There are over 35,000 described species of spiders worldwide, but most are no threat to humans. There are two dangerous spiders commonly found in the Greater Houston area. These are the black widow and the brown recluse spider.
Venomous spiders found in the Houston area
Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders like all spiders have 8 legs. Black widow spiders are solid black with a red hourglass shape on the belly. This red shape can sometimes be orange, yellow, or even white depending on the maturity and size of the spider. Female black widow spiders can appear to be brownish black. Black widow spiders are usually about 1 1/2 to 1 3/8 inches in length.
Are Black Widows Dangerous?
Female black widow spiders are much more likely to bite than a male black widow. This is especially true after they have laid eggs. The male’s poison/venom sacs cease development and he does not attack prey upon maturity. It’s interesting to note that spiderlings are poisonous when ingested until they are 18 days old and then lose their toxicity. A black widow spider bite can cause nausea, sweating, increase in blood pressure, as well as fever. The first few hours of a black widow bite are the most painful with the pain at its worst around 3 hours. The pain can last for several days, but gradually lessens over time. Black widow spider bites are rarely fatal if proper medical treatment is received.
Black Widow Habitat
Like most spiders, black widows are most active in warmer temperatures. They prefer 70 degrees or higher. Black widow spider webs are typically less than a foot across and usually low to the ground. Like Spider-Man they prefer to hang upside down while they wait to pounce on insects snagged in their web. Black widows like dark, dry areas to spin their webs in. They can be found outdoors in barns, outbuildings, wood piles, under decks and porches, inside meter boxes and rodent bait stations. You may find black widows in dark areas of garages, crawlspaces, basements, and cellars. During the winter black widows will move indoors for warmth and shelter.
Brown Recluse Spiders
The brown recluse spider is light to dark brown with a dark marking on it’s back that resembles a violin. The brown recluse is a smaller spider at about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Like all spiders it has 8 legs and no antenna. The brown recluse spider has 6 eyes in 3 groups of 2. One set is center of the head while the other 2 sets are offset to the left and right slightly above the center set.
Are Brown Recluse Spiders Dangerous?
Brown recluse spider bites are not usually felt right away. Some people have experienced an immediate stinging sensation that turns into intense pain up to 8 hours later. Usually, the bite area becomes swollen and blisters. Reactions from the bite can include fever, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. The venom injected by the brown recluse spider causes necrosis. Around 2 weeks later this area of dead tissue may expose muscles and even bone. It can take a long time to heal from a brown recluse bite and may require plastic surgery.
Brown Recluse Spider Habitat
The brown recluse spider gets its name from the fact that it is a reclusive creature. In the home, they like to hide in cracks and crevices like along baseboards, in boxes, stored clothing, closets, attics, basements, crawlspaces, and any other dark area that doesn’t get disturbed much. Outside brown recluse spiders can be found in woodpiles, behind tree bark, rocks, as well as utility enclosures.
Brown recluse spiders primarily feed on insects like roaches, crickets, and other crawling insects. When mating the female brown recluse may try to eat the male. Brown recluse like to search for their food at night. They are scavengers and will even feed on larger prey when they find it. Brown recluse spiders use their web as a place to feel safe rather than a trap for food. That doesn’t mean you’d want to stumble into one because they are more than happy to feast on just about anything that accidentally drops in for a visit.
Non-venomous spiders found in the Houston area
Wolf spiders are usually a dark brown with pale brown or almost yellow striping. Male wolf spiders can be between 1/4 – 3/4 inch long while the female can be 3/8 – 1 3/8 inch long. They have long thin legs with large bodies. Female wolf spiders can sometimes be seen carrying newly hatched babies on their back until they are a few weeks old.
Are Wolf Spiders Dangerous?
Wolf spiders are not considered to be a threat to humans. It is rare for a wolf spider to bite a human unless being handled or threatened. Wolf spiders are typically outdoor hunters that prey on many insects and spiders you would consider pests. Wolf spiders can be considered a beneficial spider.
Wolf Spider Habitat
Wolf spiders hunt their prey instead of catching their prey in a web, like most other spiders. Wolf spiders tend to remain near the ground often found under stones or leaves. Unlike most spiders, the wolf spider has excellent eyesight which makes spotting its prey easier. Some wolf spiders will lay in underground burrows waiting for prey to come near where they can pounce on them while others chase after and stalk their prey.
There are over 3000 species of orb-weaver spiders. Orb-weavers are part of the Araneidae spider family. They all have 8 eyes and hairy legs. Many are brightly colored with beautiful patterns. Some people enjoy watching orb-weavers spin their orb-shaped spiral pattern webs.
Are Orb-weaver Spiders Dangerous?
Orb-weaver spiders are not aggressive towards humans. If startled or squished they may bite in self-defense. A bite from an orb-weaver spider is not very strong. The bite may cause a red swollen area for just a short time, but typically hurts less than a bee sting. Because they are bigger spiders and brightly colored many people worry they are poisonous to humans. This is not true. We would actually consider orb-weaver spiders to be beneficial around the yard as they eat many insects we do consider pests.
Orb-weaver Spider Habitat
Orb-weaver spiders are also called garden spiders due to their preference of habitat. Orb-weavers are best known for their orb-like webs. These orb webs can be found strung between tree branches, porch columns, tall grasses, and anywhere else likely to catch prey attracted to light. Most orb-weaver spider webs have a spiral pattern to them. Many orb-weavers take down their web and rebuild it again each day. In the late evening, they will consume their web and rebuild it after a short period of rest. They typically stay hidden during the day and are most active in the evening.
Common House Spider
The common house spiders are relatively small arachnids, females are typically larger in size than males, measuring five to eight millimeters in length. Male common house spiders will generally only measure about four millimeters in length. Both male and female common house spiders are usually brown or gray in color and have a dark chevron pattern that runs along their bodies and thin legs.
Are Common House Spiders Dangerous?
The American house spider is easily scared and may bite if cornered, scared, or squished. Luckily the bite from an American house spider does not pose any harm to humans except in rare instances where someone has an allergic reaction. American house spiders actually feed on other insects and spiders. Some would consider them a beneficial spider.
Common House Spider Habitat
The common house spider earned its name by being the most prevalent type of spider you will find in the interior of your home. Since these spiders tend to dwell alongside your family indoors, common house spider control may feel urgent. American house spiders create a tangled web or cobweb in random locations. If the chosen location does not provide any food then it will leave it and make a new one in another location. Usually, these webs can be found under or behind furniture, upper corners of rooms, closets, basements, crawlspaces, corners of windows and other places they feel safe. You are more likely to find old cobwebs than an actual American house spider.
Jumping spiders make up the largest family of spiders. Constituting the family Salticidae, this family contains over 600 described genera and over 6000 described species as of 2019. These spiders earn their name because of their agility in jumping
Are Jumping Spiders Dangerous?
As for their prey, jumping spiders typically eat insects like caterpillars and bugs; sometimes, they also eat other spiders. Fortunately, they do not feed on humans. If disturbed—for example, if poked or squeezed by a human—a jumping spider may bite in self-defense, but their bites are harmless.
Jumping Spider Habitat
Interestingly, you won’t find jumping spiders in a web, as they don’t spin, live in or catch food with webs. Instead, they hunt for their prey on foot during the daytime. Female jumping spiders do spin silk to build a nest, called a retreat, for hiding in while they lay eggs and then for protecting the eggs until they hatch into baby spiderlings.
If you have a spider problem or infestation we strongly encourage you to contact a professional pest control company such as Grand Slam Pest Control. DIY treatments, such as the use of chemicals, can lead to negative effects on the environment and health concerns if used improperly. Contact us TODAY to schedule your free consultation.