Spiders are typically universally hated. The creepy, eight-legged insects can send chills up most people's spines the second they see them scurrying up a wall or crafting an intricate web.
Arachnophobia is a real and serious fear, but the condition does not take into account the many benefits that spiders can have in your home and the ecosystem around them. Spiders help control other insect populations, catching them in their web to prevent more pests like flies and mosquitos from welcoming themselves into your home. Because they eat other insects, they can prevent diseases from transferring to humans because they prevent other insects from biting them.
Spiders' venom can have curative properties when distilled, and studies are underway on how to harvest their silk in useful ways. Spiders are also an important food source for other animals, especially during spring and winter.
Just because there are many pros to keeping spiders around doesn't mean there aren't just as many cons. Spiders can bite people, and in some cases, such bites can be extremely poisonous and deadly without proper medical treatment.
Let's explore 12 different types of spiders that you can find throughout the world so you can understand if your eight-legged house guest is a friend or foe.
Not all spiders are poisonous, so while they can be a nuisance for some, they cannot cause severe damage, even if they bite you.
American House Spider
The American House Spider, also known as the Parasteatoda tepidariorum, can bite, but it feels similar to a bee sting. You may notice some redness and irritation, but they are not poisonous to humans.
This is a common house spider with a round abdomen, brown, spotted coloring, and is around 6mm (1/4") in size. American house spiders make their homes in dark, rarely cleaned corners, like closets, basements, cabinets, and crawl spaces.
The camel spider is often confused for a scorpion because they are similar in length, with tan to brown hues. They can even run up to 10 miles per hour (16 km/h)! The males are smaller than the females, and they can grow between 3 to 6 inches (1.5 to 3.0cm) in size. They prefer the dark and hide under their surroundings, including rocks, boards, and other spots. Camel spiders eat beetles, termites, rodents, and lizards. They can store fat in their body to help sustain them when they have no food.
Goliath Bird-Eater Spider
The goliath bird-eater spider is the world's biggest spider, with a leg span of more than 12 inches (30cm) wide, but that doesn't mean that they're dangerous to humans.
Goliath bird-eater spider's venom is akin to a wasp sting, but their bite is where you'll sustain the most damage. This spider got its name after observers watched it eat a hummingbird. They typically live where they eat – in caves, burrowing underground.
Goliath bird-eater spiders are aggressive, especially when it comes to their territory. They hiss by rubbing their legs together and will bite to defend themselves.
Hobo spiders are dangerous, but they're not poisonous to humans. They are always brown with black spots and markings. They catch their prey in a funnel-shaped web, with their prey including cockroaches, silverfish, beetles, and flies. They hide when it becomes too warm, which is typically when you'll find them indoors. Hobo spiders prefer to eat and live on the ground because they have poor vision.
Jumping spiders have four large eyes and excellent vision, unlike many of the other spiders on this list. There are more than 5,000 species of jumping spiders, and, in total, they comprise about 13 percent of spiders throughout the world. Typically found in mountains, grasslands, forests, and woodlands, the jumping spider will move from place to place to find food during the day.
Tarantulas are giant hairy spiders that are often kept as pets. The females can grow up to 1 foot (30cm) long, while males can grow up to 8 inches (20cm) long.
Tarantulas are also known as baboon spiders and come in grey and brown with black markings on their legs. Tarantulas do not make webs and are not poisonous to humans.
While typically timid, tarantulas can bite when they are being threatened or attempting to protect their territory, especially around other males. If you notice your tarantula hissing or putting their legs up in the air, they feel aggressive, and it's best to back off lest you get bitten. While their poison is not dangerous to humans, it can still be irritating.
Wolf spiders are often found in coastal, suburban, and grassy areas, including pastures. They look like a wolf, with eight eyes and a brown body with markings. They typically grow up to 1 inch (3cm) long, though some can be smaller. They burrow, including traps, to capture their prey. If a female is angry, male wolf spiders will dance to calm them down. When temperatures drop, they move indoors for safety.
If a poisonous spider bites you, you must seek medical attention immediately. Many spider bites have anti-venoms that can lessen their harmful effects after they penetrate into your bloodstream.
Brazilian Wandering Spider
The Brazilian wandering spider is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. Its bite can be deadly to adults and children, so you'll need to seek treatment immediately if you believe a Brazilian wandering spider bit you. They get their name because they wander in jungles, as well as hide in bananas, traveling around the world.
Black Widow Spider
Black widow spiders are one of the most recognizable spiders in the world. The female black widows have a black body with red spots, while the males have a yellow or white body. They are poisonous, and while their venom won't typically kill you, the bites can be very painful and cause severe nausea. They usually feed on beetles, insects, and roaches that they capture in their web.
Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse spider has six sets of eyes, eight legs, and a body shape that looks like a violin, earning the nickname the violin spider. It typically comes in brown, though you can find these one-inch (3cm) spiders in black, gray, and cream, based on where they're found. They can camouflage their bodies as a defense mechanism to hide from prey.
Brown recluse spiders typically settle in enclosed areas with little human traffic. They feed on crickets and cockroaches that are caught in their webs. Their bite is highly poisonous to humans, so if you suspect a brown recluse spider bit you, you must seek immediate medical attention.
Golden Silk Spiders
Golden silk spiders are venomous, though they rarely bite humans. Their bite will blister and be painful, but you won't typically need medical attention if you get bit. Like hobo spiders, they have poor vision, relying on vibrations to detect danger. They usually come in different colors like brown, red, black, green, and yellow. Golden silk spiders have white spots on their legs and can grow between 1 to 2 inches (3 to 6cm) tall. They get their name based on the golden-hued web but are also called the banana spider or the giant wood spider.
The redback spider is a poisonous spider primarily found in Australia, so much so that it's often called the Australian black widow. If a redback spider bites you, you'll experience pain, swollen lymph nodes, sweating, rapid heartbeats, etc. There is an anti-venom treatment, but not all who are bitten need to receive treatment. It has black and red markings with a bulbous body. The female is 1cm (1/3") long, while the males only grow to 3-4 mm (1/8").
Final Say About Spiders
Spiders have lasted on this earth for more than 400 million years, evolving based on their environmental needs to survive. There are more than 45,000 species of spiders on record, and that's why some are venomous while others have bred in small sizes. The silk webs they spin give them a home and help them catch prey. Spiders are adaptive creatives that are driven to survive above all else. Think about that the next time you try to smash one!