All spiders are venomous however, some have very little to no effect on humans. There are two types of spiders in Florida that you need to worry about; the widow family and the brown recluse, which have established breeding populations in Florida. Spiders play an important part in any ecosystem and their prey is often insects that are deemed pests. So next time you think about moving a spider out of your house, why not leave it in place, it might just be helping you out.
Although you are not likely to get bitten by a spider in Florida, it’s best to still adhere to some precautions like wearing gloves if you are working outside in certain locations where spiders may be active. For example, if you are reaching into a log pile or moving paving stones in a backyard, you may accidentally startle a spider and be bitten. If you have a cluttered outbuilding or garage these will provide lots of areas for spiders to find cover and actively hunt.
In Florida, there are 59 unique species of spiders. Depending on whether you fear these eight-legged creepy crawlies or maybe you have a lot of respect for them, they are a very important part of nature that you will come across every now and then. In this guide, we will discuss some common spiders found in Florida and which ones to be cautious of.
1. Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans)
|Habitat:||Often found in dark areas such as woodpiles or crevices. In the home, they are found in garages dark corners, basements, and enclosed cluttered areas.|
|Characteristics:||Female is black and shiny often with a red hourglass on their abdomen, but can sometimes appear with two small triangles instead.|
|Deadly to humans?||Poisonous venom if bitten seek medical attention.|
|Diet:||flies, fire ants, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and even small animals like mice|
There are four species of Widow spiders found in Florida. They include the ubiquitous Black widow as well as the Brown, Red, and Northen Black Widows. The female of the species is the most likely to be seen and as the name widow implies the male is killed and eaten by the larger female (8-15mm). Characterized by a large mostly black, shiny abdomen with red markings often in the shape of an hourglass with relatively long slim legs.
The Widow spiders are nocturnal spiders and during the day they can be found under woodpiles, tree stumps, or under rocks. They have adapted well to our homes, often discovered in dark cupboards, basements, and enclosed areas or in outbuildings like garages and sheds. Their webs are identified by a three-dimensional tangled web with a small tent of silk in the corner where the spider hides throughout the day.
Widow bites involve an initial pinprick feeling bite and the pain disappears rapidly leaving local swelling with two tiny red marks. Within 15 minutes to three hours muscular cramps in the shoulder, back and thigh will start, in more severe cases pain will spread to the abdomen. Your blood pressure will rise with an onset of nausea, sweating, and breathing difficulties.
If you suspect a bite by a black widow it is important to seek medical help quickly.
2. Recluse Spiders (Loxosceles)
|Habitat:||Recluse spiders are usually found in sheds, garages, or areas of homes that are undisturbed and dark.|
|Characteristics:||Recognized by dirt or a sandy brown-colored body with a slightly darker marking at its center; they could also look dark brown or slightly yellow. The legs are a solid light brown with no markings.|
|Deadly to humans?||The venom from the brown recluse releases a cytotoxin causing tissue loss near the wound, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.|
|Diet:||Other spiders and small insects.|
The Brown Recluse Spider is a venomous spider that can be found in Florida, although it’s not a completely established species. This spider is between 0.24 and 0.79 inches in size. They are tan to dark brown and have some unique features, such as six eyes instead of eight like other spiders. Sometimes a violin pattern is identified on the spider’s body but not all recluses have this marking. Loxosceles means “slanted legs” and when looking at a recluse from the side you’ll notice the legs angle above the body.
The recluse is another spider species that are nocturnal and plays a vital role in the ecosystem by hunting pests such as crickets and roaches. They like dark undisturbed areas and when inside they favor cardboard as it mimics rotting wood in the wild. Indoors they could be found in a bed that has been undisturbed for a while or even inside items of clothing.
If you are bitten by a recluse you may not feel pain for two to three hours, after which a blister can arise at the site of the bite followed by inflammation of the skin and eventually necrosis (tissue death), leaving a sunken sore. Immediate medical attention must be found if you suspect a bite from a recluse.
3. Spiny-backed Orb Weaver Spider – Gasteracantha
|Habitat:||Found in citrus groves and shrubbery and woodland edges it is also discovered around houses and outbuildings.|
|Characteristics:||The abdomen is marked with white spots, however, the color of the back and spines may be red, orange, or yellow|
|Deadly to humans?||Not deadly to humans, they can bite if provoked causing discomfort, the spines can also puncture your skin.|
|Diet:||Small fly species, beetles, and moths|
Nicknamed the crab-like orb-weaver spider due to its crab-like appearance the Spiny-backed orb weaver is a native spider in Florida. Its appearance is really unique as it has sharp spines along its body that can be different colors.
This spider catches and eats insects that are considered pests in Florida making it a vital part of our ecosystem. Their diet consists of mainly mosquitos and flies. You’ll find that they often hunt insects in citrus grooves which helps farmers to control pests.
The Spiny-backed Orb Weaver is a venomous spider but in no way deadly to humans. If threatened they can bite but only cause discomfort and their spines are also very sharp and could puncture the skin.
4. Bold Jumping Spiders -Phidippus audax
|Habitat:||Can be found in grassland, woodlands, or agricultural land, and backyards.|
|Characteristics:||A white line crossing the upper part of its abdomen and two bright white lots to the rear.|
|Deadly to humans?||No, but rarely they may bite in self-defense|
|Diet:||Small insects and non-insect arthropods|
Named the bold or daring jumping spider from the Latin word audax meaning “daring or audacious”. Its distinctive feature is the eight eyes facing multiple directions, which are vital for its abilities to hunt and find a mate.
Found in urban environments, inside gardens like many spiders in Florida they use their incredible eyesight to hunt their prey, springing onto them with great skill and injecting them with their venom.
Although not deadly to humans they can bite if provoked, resulting in similar symptoms to a bee-sting, usually causing a local reaction and small skin lesions possibly causing a rash. Young children may be more affected.
5. Banana Spider – Nephila clavipes
|Habitat:||Swamps or inside shady woods.|
|Characteristics:||Elongated abdomen with long hairy legs.|
|Deadly to humans?||Non-aggressive to humans will bite if threatened|
|Diet:||Grasshoppers, flies, and other small insects.|
The Banana Spider is referred to with multiple names, most prominently the golden silk orb-weaver due to its threads having a yellow hue to them. Its abdomen is golden or orange-colored with white dots along its length and shaped like a banana.
This spider is usually found in humid locations and the female spider is roughly three inches in size whereas the male is about five to six times smaller. Their web is stronger than kevlar and steel and the webs they construct are quite vast and sections of their web are rebuilt daily.
The golden silk orb-weaver is not at all dangerous to humans or aggressive. they will only bite you if they are threatened and only hunt small insects they catch in their webs. They do not have poisonous venom.
6. Six-spotted fishing spider – Dolomedes triton
|Habitat:||Wetland including ponds, lakeshores, and slow-moving streams.|
|Characteristics:||Grey or brown bodies and either a white or cream stripe along both sides|
|Deadly to humans?||No, they can bite humans but only when threatened, venom not considered dangerous to humans|
|Diet:||Insect larvae, tadpoles, and small fish|
The fishing spider has eight eyes of equal sizes, the colors range from grey to brown with light areas and light spots on its abdomen. Their average length is between 0.6 – 1.2 inches for the female and the male is roughly half the size. The Males must be very careful as the court females, if the female is quite hungry or he fails to communicate he may be eaten by the female
The fishing spider is one of the most fascinating spiders in Florida as it hunts during the day in bodies of water. It sits idle for extended periods waiting for movement underwater and will use its amazing vision to dive beneath the water to catch its prey.
The fishing spider is not deadly to humans and if you have been bitten the venom is regarded as not dangerous unless you have an allergic reaction. The initial bite is no more painful than a bee or wasp sting.
7. Wolf Spider – Lycosidae
|Habitat:||Mostly living in leafy/grassy areas or inside houses|
|Characteristics:||Large size, black gray or brown markings on its back|
|Deadly to humans?||No, but a painful bite if antagonized|
One of the largest spiders in Florida you may encounter in your home is the Wolf Spider. It’s roughly 1 ½ inches in size and is very fast-moving. They can be described as having a light brown body, but will usually have a darker brown pattern on their back and the underside is black.
It is suggested that the Wolf spider tends to prefer flatter and more open areas. They also live under rocks and other objects outside, in gardens they may live between cement blocks or woodpiles. Their large eyes allow them to hunt for prey during the day and the night.
Wolf spiders do not pose a severe threat to humans but it may be possible to have an allergic reaction to the venom. Usually, the bite will just be painful due to their large size and the pain subsides within a few minutes.
What’s The Most Common Spider in Florida?
There are plenty of common spiders in Florida. Some of the most common spiders include the Common House Spider, Wolf Spider, Jumping Spider, and Cellar Spider as well as the European Garden Spider and the Running Crab Spider. All of which are harmless to humans.
Are There Any Dangerous Spiders in Florida?
Yes, only two species of spiders in Florida have venomous bites: the brown recluse and the widow spiders (Southern black widow, Northern black, brown, and red widow). The brown recluse is the most prevalent for injury, resulting in more bites per year than the others due to its tendency to make its way into tents, clothing, and sleeping bags.
In about 10% of cases, its painless bite bubbles up and forms into a hard blister which eventually results in necrosis (death of tissue). Regardless of the symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention.
What Kind Of Spiders Bite in Florida?
All spiders bite, but not all of their bites are harmful to humans. Some venomous spiders in Florida have very little to no effect on humans. You only need to be concerned about two spider species in Florida: the widow species and the brown recluse.
If you suspect you have been bitten by a venomous spider you must seek medical attention immediately, as symptoms can appear very quickly.