Poisonous Spiders in Oklahoma | Identification, and Risk

Residents of Oklahoma know that whenever they have a wet season followed by extremely hot temperatures, they are likely to be the recipients of some uninvited, eight-legged guests. That’s because wet and mild climates generally create a thriving landscape for thousands of insects and spiders know they can quickly increase their numbers by consuming them in large amounts! But then when the temperatures rise and the sun starts baking the ground, spiders enter our homes seeking a cool refuge. This is when you might need to be able to identify which spider is taking up residence with you and whether or not it poses any kind of a threat. 

Most Venomous Spiders in Oklahoma

According to the journal American Family Physician, there are more than 3,000 types of spiders in the United States, but few of them bites and an even smaller group is poisonous to humans. The only poisonous spiders that reside in Oklahoma are the black widow and the brown recluse. But how venomous are they, where are they likely to be hiding and what kind of a threat do they really pose to humans? Here we focus on these two spiders which, although tiny, have a huge reputation! They are both found in Oklahoma so read on to learn how to identify them on sight and recognise their habits, movements and favourite places to hang out! 

Black widow

Scientific name: Latrodectus mactans

Black widow
A black widow spider
Author: Camazine  CC-BY-3.0

Black widow spiders lurk around the corners of your garages, barns, basements and anywhere generally quiet, dark and quiet. They are known for their tough, messy webs which tend to be built behind secluded objects. These infamous creatures turn up in  North America, southern Europe and Asia, Australia, Africa and much of South America. The black widow does produce venom which can harm humans. The dangers of a bite by a member of this genus will differ according to individual species, but some reactions can include nausea, perspiration, severe pain in the abdomen and back, muscle pain, hypertension and paralysis of the diaphragm and difficulty breathing.  It is always wise to be cautious and seek medical attention if you think you’ve suffered a bite from a black widow spider.

Brown Recluse Fiddleback

Scientific name: Loxosceles recluse

Brown Recluse Fiddleback
A brown recluse spider
Author: Br-recluse-guy  Public domain

This spider gets its name because it likes to hide. No matter where it happens to be, it will usually find somewhere to camouflage itself and remain undisturbed while it plans its next move or calculates how to catch its next meal! If the brown recluse is outdoors, it will find logs, rocks, crevices, stones, rubble or piles of leaves to conceal itself and be left in peace!  If they have taken shelter indoors (which you may not be happy about if it happens to be your house)  they will find bookcases, ceiling corners, basements, attics, curtains, laundry, cupboards and any cluttered areas to hide and lie in wait for their unsuspecting prey. 

Though very rarely aggressive, occasionally a brown recluse spider that has been disturbed or provoked may bite. This injury is very unlikely to be serious but in some cases, the skin can become ulcerated and this can deteriorate over time. This skin necrosis may take months to heal and even leave deep scars. It is important to seek medical attention if you believe that you or someone you know has been bitten by a brown recluse spider but it is also worth remembering what a very rare occurrence this is. 

Common Spiders Found In Oklahoma

Oklahoma is home to hundreds of spider species, in fact, new species are probably still to be discovered and what better place for them to make their home than the ‘Sooner state’? Most spiders in Oklahoma are not dangerous and you have probably already encountered some of the more common or garden species in your home, farm or local park. Some are rather small and others move so quickly if disturbed that it can be very hard to tell them apart so here is a guide to help you identify which of these fascinating, if controversial, creatures have decided to pay you a visit!

Orb Weavers 

Scientific name: Araneidae

Orb Weavers 
Author: Tan Pek Nan CC-BY-4.0

Orb weaver spiders are mostly found outside of homes in grasses, trees, forests, bushes, vines, hedges and shrubs.  They are quite remarkable to look at with their bright colours and almost electric-looking bodies and they have very defined and intricate markings at the ends of their legs. However, don’t think that = as with so many instances in nature = these striking colours mean they are also strikingly poisonous. These pretty spiders are very unlikely to pose a threat to humans or their pets. 

They are named for the incredible orb-shaped webs they build. Sometimes an industrious orb=weaver will build a new web every day! You are quite likely to find this spider outside as they are the most common of all the spiders contained within this genus that create these orb-shaped webs. 

An orb weaver spider is not at all dangerous and is in fact crucial to the environment as it helps to keep the ecosystem in balance in your garden, farm, forest or woodlands. 

Wolf spider

Scientific name: Lycosidae

Wolf spider
A wolf spider
Author: Phillip N. Cohen  CC-BY-2.0

These spiders not only have the most beautiful colouring but are very robust and agile spiders. They spend most of their time on the ground where their mottled colour helps them to blend in with the decaying foliage and gives them the great cover they need for pouncing upon their prey. They are solitary hunters despite being named after the wolf which, of course, hunts in a pack. It has even been said that a more fitting name for them would be cat or cheetah spider since these creatures all walk the lonesome path of the lone predator! Wolf spiders are one of many spiders who pursue their dinner on foot rather than spinning a web and waiting for dinner to come to them!

With its excellent eyesight, strong body and venomous fangs, you may be forgiven for fearing this spider but it cannot harm humans and is in fact beneficial due to its seemingly voracious appetite for bugs that we may consider pests. 


Scientific name: Theraphosidae

A tarantula
Author: safaritravelplus CC0 1.0

Tarantulas are feared and revered the world over but do they deserve this formidable reputation? Tarantulas like dry well-drained soil and open areas across deserts and grasslands across North America. They are burrowing creatures and will use their powerful fangs to dig or else they will cleverly slip into an abandoned burrow saving themselves the work! 

Amazingly, given their impending shape and size (they can be as large as a dinner plate when fully extended) tarantulas are in fact harmless to humans except for perhaps leaving you with a rather nasty bite. It may be a helpful comparison to bear in mind that a tarantula has weaker venom than you would receive from an average bee sting! 

Why not read Most Venomous Spiders in Florida | Identification and Risk

Symptoms of Envenomation

Spider bites can be mistaken for other skin sores that are red, painful or swollen. Conversely, many skin sores attributed to spider bites turn out to have been caused by bites from other bugs. Many venomous bites may not show symptoms or they may take a while to manifest so the best advice is to act as if every potentially venomous bite is serious as they are time-sensitive requiring fast action. Signs and symptoms to watch out for are puncture marks at the wound site, swelling, bruising, bleeding or blistering around the bite, severe pain and nausea, a raised heart rate and difficulty breathing, also pay attention to blurred vision and low blood pressure, these can all be indicative of a venomous bite which will require medical care. 


First Aid for Spider Bite Victims

Your medical practitioner will likely diagnose a spider bite based on your history and your signs and symptoms. In the meantime, this first aid protocol should be employed until you can receive professional attention. Clean the area carefully using soap and water and if you happen to have it to hand, an antibiotic wash or ointment. Apply a cold compress, an ice pack is ideal and you can make this by crushing some ice you have placed in a small bag. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed and observe the wound site for any changes. Lastly, if at all possible, try to keep the area elevated as much as you can.