Spiders at a Glance
Who: Spider (Araneae)
What: Mostly web-building arthropods with eights legs and fangs that inject venom.
When: Year-round, although most activity is during the Fall and during the night.
Where: Every continent except Antarctica.
Prevention: Keep areas around the home debris free. Check around doors and windows and seal up any obvious cracks or spaces. Regular pest control services will apply chemical barriers outside the home to deter entry.
Perhaps no other animal is more feared and more hated than the spider, and with more than 40000 known species spread out across the globe, you really can’t get away from them. All known species (apart from one) are predators that use a wide range of tactics to capture prey. Most people are familiar with the spider’s web, but other methods include mimicking prey, building “trapdoors” or simply chasing after the prey item. Spiders vary in size from the minute (the Patu digua from Columbia are only 0.015 inches) to the massive (by length, the Giant huntsman spider is nearly 14 inches across!).
While they may be despised, spiders are an important part of nature and even provide free pest control, often eating other insects we find annoying (such as mosquitoes). Spider venom is currently being used in medical research and in the creation of non-polluting pesticides, whereas spider silk is superior to many of our synthetic materials by being lighter, stronger and more elastic.
If you wish to get away from these arachnids, head to the poles – spiders live on nearly every habitat on earth with the exception of the polar regions, the tallest of mountains and in the ocean. They live among the trees, in caves, under rocks, in the ground and even in your home – anywhere with a reliable food source can become a perfect home for a spider.
Spiders in Arkansas
Arkansas is home to a number of different species of spiders (see a list here!), from orb-weavers to tarantulas. Most spiders that call Arkansas home pose little to no threat to humans, but there are a few to watch out for:
Widows (Latrodectus) – considered one of the most common species of spider found in Arkansas, widows are typically small and live in messy webs. Females are the only ones considered dangerous but they are typically not aggressive and will only bite if they feel threatened. Black widows are easily recognized by the bright red ‘hourglass’ marking under their abdomen. Brown widows also have an ‘hourglass’ marking that is usually orange or yellow.
Recluses (Loxosceles) – these small, tan colored spiders are also called “violin” or “fiddle” spiders because of a dark, violin-shaped marking on their backs. They are known to have a necrotic bite causing cell death and large open wounds.
More information about dangerous spiders in Arkansas can be found here.