There are more than 34,000 species of spiders known worldwide, with almost 900 species found in Texas. The identification and of these silk-spinning arachnids can become confusing. Most are small and have a body length of 3.6 inches or less, some are venomous and pack danger withi their powerful bite. Spiders are usually nuisances due to their webbing activities. All spiders are poisonous to some degree because they use poison on their prey, but only the BLACK WIDOW and the BROWN RECLUSE (or FIDDLEBACK SPIDER) are capable of inflicting serious injury to humans. Neither spider will bite unless provoked.
Recluse Spiders. Five species are found in Texas. Their color varies from orange-yellow to dark brown, brown being the most common. They are small (1/4-1/2 inch long,) venomous, non-aggressive, shy night hunters and are commonly found in homes, garages, bathrooms and in items that have been left undisturbed for long periods of time (such as shoes or clothing). A distinguishing mark is a violin shape located in the upper portion of the leg attachment area. The violin neck makes a distinct groove and descends downward toward the abdomen. The spider is characteristically tan to brown with a dark brown fiddle-shaped pattern on the front half of its back. This spider has an unique eye pattern of six eyes arranged in a semicircle of three pairs on the front portion of the head. It is aptly named since it is a reclusive spider.
It is usually found in buildings such as barns, sheds, garages or even homes that are dry, littered, undisturbed and contain a supply of insects to serve as food. Its favorite hiding places seem to be the arms or legs of garments that are left hanging undisturbed for some time. People have been known to be bitten while sleeping in beds that have been unoccupied for some time. Other species in the genus should also be considered poisonous. Other species are very similar but the "violin" markings vary. Other species in the genus should also be considered poisonous.
- Big Bend Recluse (Loxoscele blanda) from West Texas
- Texas Recluse (Loxosceles devia), found in South Texas may be the most common species in Texas and is often mistaken for Brown Recluse (Loxoscele reclusa)
- Apache Recluse (Loxosceles apachea) - Southeastern Arizona to Southern New Mexico to Western, Central, and South Texas
- Mediterranean Recluse (Loxosceles rufescens) originated in the Mediterranean region as its name implies, but has been introduced to Arkansas, Hawaii, and the gulf coast states of the United States
- Brown Recluse (Loxoscele reclusa) is found primarily in the Midwest and parts of the South: from Southern Wisconsin to Ohio, and south to Central Texas and Northern Florida.
Black Widow Spider
Black Widow. These are found throughout the United States, southern black widow spiders are common in the south. Highly venomous, these web-spinning spiders are petite in size (1.5 inches), but can carry as many as 900 eggs. Females are known for eating their mates. Three species of this spider are found in Texas:
They are usually found in homes, garages and darkened and secluded areas and will bite when accidentally stumbled upon. The female Black Widow is shiny black and distinctively marked with a red or yellow "hour glass" on the underside of her abdomen. The bite of the female widow spider is more dangerous to humans than the males due to their increased venom sac size. According to the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, less than 5 percent of those bitten by a widow spider die as a result. This spider lives in undisturbed situations, such as under rocks and boards and in protected areas around buildings.
Northern Black widow