Tennessee is a popular state for many species of spiders. Many of us have a fear of spiders and some of us have developed arachnophobia (a pathological fear or loathing of spiders). There are a number of harmless spiders in Tennessee and many actually are beneficial to humans by preying upon nuisance insects such as flies and crickets. The Nashville Zoo has spiders on exhibit at their Unseen New World indoor exhibit. They have tarantulas and other species. The two deadliest spiders—the brown recluse and black widow—are both deceased versions at which you can look closely through a magnifying glass to learn how to identify. In fact, the only two Tennessee spiders considered poisonous are the black widow and the brown recluse spiders.
The brown recluse is not an aggressive spider. It rarely bites. It is medium in size with its legs extending approximately an inch or two. The color of this spider varies from a light yellow-brown to a dark brown or reddish brown. These spiders have three sets of eyes; most spiders have four pairs of eyes. The best way to tell if a spider is a brown recluse is to view the top of the body right above the legs and look for a violin-shaped mark.
It is very possible to reside in a home that is infested with brown recluses and never get bitten. The majority of brown recluse spider bites happen when the spider is caught against bare skin. For instance, bites have occurred when people roll over on a brown recluse in bed or put on a shoe with a spider inside.
If you or a family member has been bitten by a brown recluse, be sure to seek medical attention. Many victims don’t realize they have been bitten. Unless you see the spider on you, you may not be aware of the bite. It may sting and may not. They are usually pain free. The initial bite is generally not painful at all, later the bitten area often becomes irritated and red. Some people have a minimal reaction to the bite and others suffer wounds and ulcers. Most brown recluse spider bites heal within a few weeks following the bite, and do not have serious complications. Others are less fortunate. They may develop a lesion, appearing as a dry area that caves in with irregular edges and outside redness. As the spider’s venom continues to destroy tissue, the resulting wound may grow larger and linger for months.
Black widow spiders like closed, dark places such as barns, garages, basements, hollow stumps, or thick vegetation. These spiders are common in Tennessee; yet reported incidents of bites are few. The black widow has a shiny appearance. The body color may be a dark black to a dark or reddish brown. To tell if a spider is a black widow, look for two red triangles shaped in an hourglass on the belly of the spider. This indicates it is a female black widow. Female black widows are not aggressive and only bite when their webs are disturbed or in self-defense. The male spiders have a distinctive pattern on the spider’s abdomen that is a row of red dots and white or yellow lines. The male black widow is harmless.
If you or a family member has been bitten by a black widow, be sure to seek medical attention. The female black widow has a very strong venom. The bite often feels like a pin prick initially. You may not notice you have been bitten. Within a few minutes the victim will feel pain that extends to other parts of the body, including arms, legs, chest, etc. Effects include chills, difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea, and abdominal pain. The victim usually feels fine after a few days. It is estimated that 5% of black widow bites are fatal.
Our exterminators are experienced in killing Tennessee spiders and handling infestations. Please call us with questions.
Other spiders found in the state of Tennessee include the banded garden spider, bark crab spider, spotted orb weaver, the spined micrathena spider, and the thin-legged wolf spider, woodland jumping spider, triangulate cob web spider, the tuft-legged orb weaver, the wolf spider, and the venusta orchard spider.