Spider Bites: Dangerous Spiders and How to Treat Bites

Spiders, which are commonly feared and the source of many urban legends, are not predisposed to bite humans unless they feel threatened. Very few spiders, even when they do bite, are dangers to human beings, but it is always good to be careful when you don’t know how to identify poisonous spiders.

Spider bites are uncommon, but when they happen, there is usually no emergency treatment necessary. Most spiders’ venom is too weak to cause much damage, and since spiders rarely bite humans as a food source, they sometimes inject no venom at all.

There are, however, a few spiders to watch out for, though spider bites have a very low mortality rate. The only incidence in which a person should be worried is in the case of an allergic reaction, which is uncommon but does happen.

Black Widow Spiders

These small, black spiders have generated fear in humans for years, but there hasn’t been a death from a black widow spider bite in the United States for more than ten years. Usually, the bite causes flu-like symptoms and may require medical treatment.

The female black widow is larger than the male and is easily distinguished by her read, hourglass-shaped marking on the top of her abdomen. Although female black widow spiders are not considered aggressive, they will bite if the web is disturbed or if she feels threatened by a human. There have been very few accounts of a male black widow spider bite, but these happen as well.

The black widow is considered dangerous because of a highly toxic venom. It can cause severe muscle spasums, contractions and high fever. Children are most adversely affected by the bites, and may require hospitilization, but it usually effective to simply keep the bite clean and elevated.

Brown Recluse Spiders

The brown recluse spider is more dangerous than the black widow because of the affects of their venom. Necrosis – death of tissue – surrounding the bite is common, and bites usually take several months to heal. Victims of brown recluse spider bites may experience dizziness, muscle soreness and fever, but very few people ever die from a brown recluse bite.

Victims of brown recluse spider bites should seek medical attention to reduce scarring and to speed up the healing process. The injection of steroids is a popular method of accelerating the healing process.

Some cases of brown recluse bites have resulted in organ damage.

Brown recluse spiders are most commonly found in dark, dank places where they can hide from humans. Most encounters occur inside or around cardboard boxes, in attic or basement rafters, or in shelves or drawers where they can hide. To avoid a brown recluse spider bite, look around and in drawers or boxes before you stick your hands into them.

Huntsman Spiders

Although native only to Australia and parts of California, the huntsman spider is one of the most feared arachnids, largely because of its size. Huntsman spiders can grow up to six inches in length, and are generally very thick. They are known to make threatening displays and to approach humans in an aggressive or confrontational manner, and their bites are extremely painful.

Although their venom is weak and they are not considered dangerous, their bites are unpleasant and they are thought to be aggressive by most people who encounter them. They can be found scaling the walls of a home in search of prey or in gardens and flowerbeds outside the home.

If you come across a huntsman spider, it is best to leave it alone. Although you cannot die from a huntsman spider bite, it is better not to risk the pain. If you attempt to crowd or confront it, it will defend itself. If you find one inside your home, do your best to kill it or get it outside.

Sydney Funnel Web Spiders

Native to Sydney, Australia, the Sydney Funnel Web spider is the most venemous and one of the most dangerous spiders in the world. Large and aggressive, it has been known to bite without provocation and to attack children and infants in their cribs or strollers. Although its venom is neurologically potent, however, it rarely releases enough venom to cause deaths in normal, healthy adults. This spider should be kept away from children, however, and it might also be dangerous to the elderly.

This spider is most dangerous because, when given the decision between running away and biting, it will bite. It can also cover a large amount of area in a very short amount of time, which makes it extremely dangerous if it enters the home. It is a large, black, thick spider closely resembling a tarantula, and when it does bite, the victim should be taken to the hospital.


The most feared spider on earth is the tarantula, mostly because of its size and frightening appearance. Movies like Arachnophobia do not help its reputation, and although many people keep these spiders as pets, they are widely distrusted.

A tarantula’s venom is extremely weak and there have been only a handful of deaths resulting from a tarantula bite. They have long, sharp fangs that can cause a great deal of pain when sunk into human flesh, but there is very little risk of secondary affects.

The problem with tarantulas is that they are sometimes spotted in large groups, and can appear rather aggressive. In reality, they will avoid contact with people whenever possible, but because of their size and feeding habits, they do come into contact with humans.

Travelers in the desert areas of California, Nevada and Arizona should be watchful of tarantulas. They can often be seen in the evening, crossing streets and congregating near places of business and homes.

Avoiding Spider Bites

1. Never approach a spider that is putting on a confrontational display. Spiders that lift their front legs and show their fangs should not be messed with, and will probably bite if provoked.

2. Avoid sticking your hand into boxes, drawers or dark areas without looking first. If you disturb a spider’s safe haven or web, it is more likely to bite.

3. Keep small children away from places where spiders are known to habitate, and educate children about the dangers of playing with or picking up spiders.

4. Never corner or try to intimidate a spider. Even non-aggressive spiders will bite if they feel they are threatened, and they are much quicker than they look.

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