Whether you’re out in the wilderness or in your home, you’re never that far away from a spider. However, there are so many different spider species, approximately 40,000 world wide, that it’s hard to figure out which ones you need to worry about and which ones are harmless. The rankings are based on how common the spider is, how aggressive it is and how deadly its venom is to humans.
1. Brazilian Wandering Spider
The Brazilian Wandering Spider is a large brown spider similar to North American Wolf Spiders, but bigger and possessing a more toxic venom. It has the most neurologically active venom of all spiders, and is regarded as the most dangerous spider in the world. Brazilian Wandering Spiders are active hunters and travel a lot. They tend to crawl into cozy, comfortable places for the night and sometimes crawl into fruits and flowers that humans consume and cultivate. If the spider has a reason to be alarmed, it will bite in order to protect itself, but unless startled or aggravated, most bites will be delivered dry (i.e. without venom).
2. Black Widow Spider
Black widows are notorious spiders identified by the colored, hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. Several species answer to the name, and they are found in temperate regions around the world. Approximately 5 percent of the reported bites were fatal prior to the invention of Widow spider antivenom. One of their favorite haunts is an old fashioned outhouse. Sixty-three deaths were reported in the United States between 1950 and 1959, most of which occurred in or around a woodpile or outhouse.
3. Brown Widow Spider
The Brown Widow spider, like its cousins the Black Widow, Red Back Spider, and Katipo are spiders that carry a neurotoxic venom which can cause a set of symptoms known as Latrodectism. Like many spiders, widows have very poor vision, and they move with difficulty when not on their web. The Brown Widow spiders have relatively spindly legs and deep, globular abdomens. The abdomen has one or several red spots, either above or below. The spots may take the form of an hourglass, or several dots in a row. The male widows, like most spider species, are much smaller than the females and may have a variety of streaks and spots on a browner, less globular abdomen.
4. Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown Recluse spider, also known as “violin spiders,” “fiddlers,” or “fiddlebacks,” from the dark violin-shaped marking on the head, are slow-moving, retiring spiders that wander about in dim areas. They often den in footwear, clothing and beds, and are then easily trapped against someone’s skin by clothing, bed sheets, etc. – leading to the spider’s bite. Most encounters with this spider occur from moving boxes or rooting about in closets or under beds. The range of the Brown Recluse in the US is mostly restricted to the Midwest, South and Southeast.
5. Six-Eyed Sand Spider
The Six-Eyed Sand Spider is a medium-sized spider with body measuring 1 to 2 inches and legs spanning up to 4 inches. It is found in deserts and other sandy places in southern Africa with close relatives found in both Africa and in South America. The Six-Eyed Sand Spider is a cousin to the Recluses which are found worldwide. Due to its flattened stance, it is also sometimes known as the Six-Eyed Crab Spider.
6. Chilean Recluse Spider
The Chilean recluse spider is a venomous spider closly related to the Brown Recluse Spider. In Spanish, it (and other South American recluse spiders) is known as araña de rincon, or “corner spider”; in Portuguese, as aranha-marrom or “brown spider.” This spider is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the Recluse Spiders, and its bite is known to frequently result in severe systemic reactions, including death.
7. Northern Funnel Web Spider
The Northern Funnel Web Spider of Australia is the largest of this genus, reaching sizes over three inches long, and is most easily distinguished by its habit of dwelling in trees. These spiders are attracted to water, and often fall into swimming pools, leading to encounters with homeowners trying to scoop them out of the water.
8. Red-Legged Widow Spider
The Red Legged Widow is a rare spider, which is a member of the Black Widow family and highly venomous. According to all literature, this spider is indigenous to south and central Florida. This colorful spider is less than an inch long, but packs the same type of venom as its other Widow relatives.