If you live in the great state of Texas, you’ve probably heard the saying that “Everything is bigger in Texas”—and when it comes to Texas spiders, that’s often all too true! These creepy-crawlies can make even the strongest among us shudder, or jump in fear when we encounter one of them.
Tarantulas, with their enormous, hairy bodies and long, thick, hairy legs, are an excellent example of just how big Texas spiders can get; they are one of the most famous Texas spiders, along with black widows and brown recluses. But there are many other varieties of Texas spiders—almost 900 species, in fact! Although most species you are likely to encounter in and around your home are harmless, there are a few which are venomous that you’ll want to learn more about so that you can protect your family from the health risks associated with poisonous spider bites.
The Brown Recluse: A Texas Spider Species Of Concern
The brown recluse is a well-known spider that is all too commonly encountered in Texas yards. There are five varieties of brown recluse spider commonly found in Texas, and you can find them in all regions of the state. These spiders are on the smaller side and yellowish-brown in color, with a slightly darker abdomen and markings on the backs of their upper bodies that look like tiny violins.
Since brown recluse spiders prefer undisturbed habitats outdoors, you might encounter them while doing yard work, especially if you’re turning over rocks or logs, where they often hide out. Brown recluses have also been found indoors on occasion, however; people have been bitten on their legs or arms when they pulled on an item of clothing in which a brown recluse was hiding.
The primary reason that most of us have heard of brown recluses are their bites. A brown recluse spider bite is a highly venomous and particularly dangerous to humans. If you think you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, it is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Brown recluse spider bites typically cause a large red circle at the site of the bite, which becomes itchy over the course of a few days and then sloughs off, leaving a wound that can sometimes take weeks or even months to heal.
In rare cases, brown recluse bite wounds can become quite serious when the affected tissue becomes necrotic and dies. These bites can also cause systemic reactions in the bite victim, such as fever, rash, vomiting or nausea, and all-over itching. Individual responses to brown recluse bites can vary in severity, and should always be closely monitored by a healthcare professional.
Black Spiders In Texas: Which Should You Avoid?
The most famous black spiders in Texas are probably black widow spiders. These venomous spiders can be found all over the southeastern portion of the United States, including throughout the state of Texas. Black widows are highly recognizable, thanks to their shiny, black, bulbous bodies that are marked with bright-red, triangular or hourglass-shaped markings on the underside of the abdomen. Female black widow spiders are about twice the size of males.
Black widow spiders were named due to the common belief that female black widows would cannibalize male spiders after mating with them. This behavior is now recognized to fall into the category of spider myth, rather than being a reality among this species. Still, the black widow’s ominous name, paired with its extremely venomous bite, which can be quite dangerous for its victims, places it at the top of the list of shudder-inducing black spiders in Texas. Fortunately, black widows typically bite humans only when they are disturbed.
Black widows prefer to hide in dark, dry spaces, such as inside garages or sheds or within dense brush or other vegetation. If you’re gardening or clearing out your garage, shed or another outdoor storage structure, it would be wise to wear thick work gloves in case you encounter a black widow spider. If you are bitten by a black widow, you might experience systemic symptoms like nausea, sweating, back or abdominal pain, or even trouble breathing; medical attention is necessary in case symptoms are serious.
Tarantulas are another Texas spider that might be black in color; they can also be light or medium brown, or even have an orange cast. Though these spiders are intimidating to many people because of their hairiness and their alarmingly large size—they have thick, hairy legs and large, heavy, hairy bodies, and can grow to be as large as a person’s palm when fully grown—these creatures aren’t actually dangerous to humans. When threatened or disturbed, tarantulas have a habit of using their hind legs to brush hairs off their abdomens; these hairs can be irritating to someone’s skin or eyes, which would make their hair more dangerous than their bite.
Should Homeowners Fear A Trapdoor Spider In Texas?
The trapdoor spider is another type of black Texas spider. Trapdoor spiders are sometimes confused with tarantulas, but there are differences between the two kinds of arachnids. First, while trapdoor spiders do have hairy legs, their bodies are smooth, unlike tarantulas’ bodies. Second, while trapdoor spiders are on the larger side, especially when fully grown, they are still quite a bit smaller than tarantulas. Similar to tarantulas, trapdoor spider bites may be somewhat painful, but are unlikely to do much harm to anyone.
Trapdoor spiders spend most of their time in underground burrows, but they are known to be flushed out by heavy rains. When they do come out of these underground homes, the males may wander in search of a female to mate with; the males have also been known to be aggressive with each other, but they aren’t typically aggressive toward humans.
How To Prevent Brushes With Venomous Texas Spiders
Our state is home to two main venomous spiders in Texas—the brown recluse and the black widow. A bite from either of these spiders can be quite serious and victims should be monitored by a doctor.
Since venomous Texas spider bites can be so dangerous to humans, homeowners should know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from these dangerous (and creepy) pests. As with so many insects and other pests, prevention is generally the best way to deal with spiders and their bites—meaning, taking steps to keep them away from your home and property.
Although spiders can seem very threatening, it’s also important to remember that even the venomous types are generally an asset to the environment. These animals feed on lots of undesirable insect pests, including cockroaches, helping keep those populations down. Hardly anyone relishes the prospect of encountering spiders in or around their home, however, so here are some steps you can take to make your property less appealing to spiders that are looking to create a burrow or a web:
- Keep grass, weeds and brush trimmed and cleared well away from your home and garage.
- Use caulk or another sealant to close off any cracks or gaps in your home that spiders might use to access the indoors.
- If you find spider egg sacs—usually small, white balls that are clumped together within spider webbing, often underneath or on the backside of furniture or cabinets—clear them away with a vacuum cleaner. If you find a spider inside your home, you can vacuum it away or trap it in a container and release it outdoors.
- If you are going to use clothes or linens that have been in storage or just unused for a long time, be sure to shake them out thoroughly beforehand, in case spiders have been nesting inside.
Remember, too, that most spider bites happen when someone reaches into a small, dark space where spiders are living, and where the person can’t see what they’re touching. Wood and rock piles are favorite spots for spiders to hide in and build nests; so are piles of brush and other debris. If you want to keep spiders away from your home and the people you care about, it’s best to keep outdoor spaces neat, clean and cleared of brush or debris. This could be having a lawn service come to keep your grass mowed and to reduce vegetation, which can also help keep other larger pests from sticking around.
ABC Can Help With Your Spider Problems
If you have an infestation on your hands or worry that you have venomous spiders in and around your home, your best bet is to contact a professional to help. Over-the-counter pesticides often aren’t effective in keeping spiders away from your living spaces. Treatment products applied around the perimeter of the home periodically are typically your best defense from having spiders make their way inside. ABC Home & Commercial Services has been helping Texas homeowners steer clear of common household pests for generation. Our skilled technicians take a comprehensive approach to controlling spider populations both inside and outside your home, to ensure that you and your loved ones stay protected from spider bites and any other associated health risks that pests can pose.