5 Venomous Spiders in Alabama | Identification and Risk

There are over 95 indigenous species of spider in Alabama. The majority of them are harmless, despite their reputation and the common phobia they induce in humans. 

However, 5 of the resident species are venomous and any encounters should be taken with extreme caution. 

Venomous Spiders in Alabama

This article lists the 5 deadly spider species that can be found across Alabama. Their description, habitat, and risks are outlined, so you can avoid running into them, or know what actions to take if a bite was to occur. 

Harmless species that are common in Alabama are also listed.

Dangerous Spiders in Alabama Identification

1. Brazilian Wandering Spider

Scientific Name:  Phoneutria nigriventer

Brazilian Wandering Spider
Brazilian Wandering Spider crawling on leaves

Brazilian wandering spiders are a large species and their legs can reach up to 7 inches in length. They have large bodies and thick legs which are densely haired. 

Coloration varies from brown to grey and some individuals have light-colored spots on their abdomen. The underside of their front legs is banded with black and yellow. 

These stripes are exposed when they take their iconic defensive posture of holding their front legs high up in the air. 

Other names for this spider include the armed spider and the banana spider, as they can often be found on banana leaves. 

Where Will They Be Hiding? 

Brazillian wandering spiders range across South America, including Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. They frequent hick forests and jungles. These nocturnal spiders get their name from their hunting strategy. 

They wander the ground and ambush their prey, rather than spinning and waiting in webs. During the day, they are hidden under logs, foliage, or in crevices and cracks. 

Are They Dangerous?

Brazilian wandering spiders, like all spiders belonging to Phoneutria, are very deadly. Their venom contains at least 6 neurotoxic peptides, that can cause serious harm if they get injected into your body through a bite. 

The venomous bite can cause excruciating pain, a high pulse, increased blood pressure, high respiratory rate, penile erection, and even death. They are aggressive hunters and should be treated with caution. 

There are hundreds of reports of these spider bites every year. Around 14 people died from the bite previously until an antidote was found in 1996. 

2. Southern Black Widow Spider

Scientific Name: Latrodectus mactans

Southern Black Widow Spider
Southern Black Widow Spider consuming prey that has been caught in its web

The Southern black widow spider is shiny, and jet-black in color. They have large, oval-shaped abdomens and long, pointed legs. The underside of their abdomen is adorned with a bright red hourglass shape. 

Female widows can be distinguished as they have an additional, small red patch located just above the spinnerets on their abdomen. 

Where Will They Be Hiding?

The Southern black widow can be found across South America. They build strong webs to catch their insect prey, which they will inject with their venom.  

Generally, they weave their webs in areas that are close to the ground and well hidden. Habitats include old rodent burrows, crevices, log piles, and dark corners in sheds, basements, and garages. 

Are They Dangerous?

Black widow spiders have a reputation for being dangerous and deadly. Their fangs are large and strong, making them easily able to pierce human skin, often leaving small, red puncture wounds in their victim. 

Adult females have larger jaws than males so they are able to inject higher doses of venom. Venom is neurotoxic which means it can inhibit the ordinary functioning of the nervous system.  

Symptoms include inflammation around the wound, nausea, muscle cramping, excessive sweating, and stomach pain. 

There are more than two thousand recorded cases of black widow bites in the United States every year. However, over the past few decades, no deaths have occurred as a result of a bite. 

3. Northern Black Widow

Scientific Name: Latrodectus various

Northern Black Widow
Northern Black Widow spider crawling along its web
Credit: Judy Gallagher CC by 2.0

The Northern black widow spider is not too dissimilar for the Southern black widow spider in looks. It is glossy black overall and has a large, bulbous abdomen and long, thinly spiked legs.  

However, the characteristic red hourglass pattern on the underside of the abdomen is broken along the middle. Additionally, Northern widows have a pattern of red spots outlined in yellow running vertically along the middle of their abdomen. 

They also have white lines running horizontally across their abdomen. 

Where Will They Be Hiding?

The Northern black widow has a geographical range across Eastern America, from Southern Canada to South Florida. These spiders can be found hiding in cracks and crevices including abandoned rodent burrows, log and leaf piles, and corners of outbuildings. 

Are They Dangerous?

Black widows have a deadly reputation, due to the fact their venom is 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake. Their venom is neurotoxic, meaning it inhibits normal nervous system functioning. 

Their powerful mandibles can easily puncture human flesh. The amount of venom they inject is usually too small to be lethal, but it causes nasty symptoms. Muscle cramping, nausea, and stomach pain are some of the symptoms. 

Over two thousand cases of black widow bites are reported annually in the United States. However, less than 1% of these bites result in death, and it is usually in infants. 

4. Brown Recluse 

Scientific Name: Loxosceles recluse

Brown Recluse 
Brown Recluse spider on a leaf

The brown recluse spider is brown overall and can range from light to dark. On their cephalothorax, they have a dark patch that resembles the shape of a violin. 

Due to this, they are also known as violin spiders, fiddle back spiders, and brown fiddlers. 

Where Will They Be Hiding? 

Geographically, this spider has a range throughout Southeast America. The brown recluse makes their home in wood and log piles, or among debris and foliage. These spiders are not uncommon to find in your house. 

In urban environments, the brown recluse makes its home in cardboard, as it resembles rotting tree bark or wood. As such, storage areas are where they are most likely to reside. 

Often, hundreds if not thousands of recluse spiders frequent an area, meaning infestations are more likely than a single individual. 

Are They Dangerous?

The brown recluse spider is not an aggressive species, and as its name suggests, they tend to avoid human interaction. They will only bite if they feel threatened. However, their bite can be dangerous and medical attention should be sought. 

The venom of a brown recluse causes necrotic (rotting) skin lesions, which require antibiotic treatment and often leave deep scarring. Haemolysis can also occur in extreme cases. 

Every year in America, hundreds of cases of brown recluse bites are reported. No fatalities have been documented, but infants, the elderly, and vulnerable individuals are most at risk.

5. Chilean Recluse

Scientific Name: Loxosceles laeta

Chilean Recluse
Chilean Recluse Spider walking along a wooden surface
Credit: Mampato

The Chilean recluse looks similar to the brown recluse. It is brown overall, though slightly redder in tone. It boasts the characteristic violin-shaped patch on its thorax, earning it the nicknames violin spider and fiddle back spider. 

Where Will They Be Hiding?

The Chilean recluse is a species of spider that is native to South America. These spiders build their irregularly shaped webs among logs and wood piles. It is not uncommon to see these arachnids in urban areas, such as in the corners of outbuildings, in cardboard boxes, and in clothes and shoes. 

Are They Dangerous?

The Chilean recluse possesses venom that is more deadly than the brown recluse. Similarly, they have necrotic venom, although it is a more potent dose. Their bite can result in rotting of the skin, leaving a large, open wound that requires immediate antibiotic treatment to prevent infection. No fatalities have been recorded. 

Common House Spiders Found in Alabama

  • Yellow Garden Spider 
  • Woodlouse Spider
  • Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider
  • Marbled Orb Weaver Spider
  • Triangulate Cobweb Spider 
  • Brown Widow Spider
  • Furrow Spider 
  • Wolf Spider
  • Trapdoor Spider 

Symptoms of Envenomation

Envenomation is the induction of poison into a body by a living organism. This can be through a wasp or scorpion sting, or a snake or spider bite. There are a few symptoms of envenomation that you should be aware of. 

Visible symptoms include puncture marks from the sting or bite. Often, these appear as small, red dots and can become itchy, inflamed, bruised, or bloodied. 

Most symptoms are systemic and include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, a high heart rate, difficulty breathing, muscle pain, and cramping. The symptoms depend on the poison and its potency. 

First Aid for Spider Bite Victims

The protocol for any spider bite is to immediately clean the bite to prevent infection. A cold compress should be applied to reduce pain and swelling. 

Depending on the severity of the bite, antibiotics may need to be issued by a doctor, or even antivenom in the most extreme cases. 

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