Though spiders may seem ominous and are feared by most, the majority of arachnids in the United States are completely harmless. However, there are two spiders commonly found throughout the country that are venomous and should be treated with extreme caution; the black widow and the brown recluse.
There are a few different species of black widows that can be found in the US. The southern, northern and western black widow are all prevalent. These spiders are most frequently found in southern and western areas.
When most people think about black widows they think of the red hourglass shape known to characterize these critters. While this is accurate and is true for many of these spiders, there are many variations in their appearance. Often times, the red markings are merely dots or lines and not a distinct hourglass. The color of the widows can also vary significantly from grey to black. Black widows usually prefer staying hidden in sheds, garages or piles of debris. These spiders are not aggressive, but if they are disturbed, they may bite. It is the female’s bite that is most dangerous. The venom of these spiders is very potent, and if bitten, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Children and elderly individuals may have a much more serious reaction to a black widow bite.
The brown recluse is another venomous spider common in parts of the United States. This species is found primarily in the southern and midwestern states. Brown recluse spiders can range in color from cream to very dark brown. The distinguishing feature of this species is a violin-shaped marking on its back. These spiders also have six eyes, contrasting with the usual eight of most spiders. Like widows, recluse spiders try to avoid interacting with humans and will usually flee from confrontation or threats. However, they too, are known to occasionally bite humans, injecting their poisonous venom into the blood stream. A brown recluse bite is extremely serious and should be treated by a medical professional immediately.