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Florida's Most Dangerous Spiders

November 2, 2016


Although there are several species of spiders found throughout Florida, there are really only 2 you need to be concerned with. Though the others can inflict painful bites, these two arachnids are capable of landing you in the hospital.

Recluse Spiders: Known by several names, such as brown spiders, fiddle-back spiders, reapers, or violin spiders, the Brown Recluse is found throughout the world in warm climates. Although only 6mm to 12mm in size, make no mistake that this spider can be deadly. There most distinctive feature is a dark violin-shaped marking on its back, however other less-harmful spiders mimic this camouflage making them harder to distinguish. The best way to identify a Brown Recluse is by its eyes. While most spiders have 8 eyes arranged in 2 rows, the Brown Recluse has 6 eyes separated into 3 pairs. An invasive species, Brown Recluse spiders love to hide inside of homes making them a particularly nasty threat. Their bite is considerably painful and can lead to swelling and blistering. More serious bites often results in necrotic skin lesions as the flesh surrounding the bite quickly begins to die.

Widow Spiders: Florida is "lucky" in that it has 4 species of widow spider, the southern and northern black widows, the red widow, and the brown widow. Noted most for their red hourglass marking on the underbelly, females can measure 1.5" while males are about 1/4 the size. Nocturnal in nature, widows are web builders, making large, irregular, 3 dimensional webs. The females are considered more dangerous by far as they have much larger venom sacs. Non-aggressive, widows are considered timid and usually try to escape from humans when threatened. Widows love to hid, often on high shelves, in old gloves or shoes. If you aren't already in the habit of knocking out your shoes before putting them on, you'll definitely want to develop this practice. Like the recluse, the bite of a widow can land you in the hospital.

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