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How to Identify Maryland Spiders

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Female Black Widow

Female Black Widow

The Black Widow Spider

The only naturally occurring poisonous spider in Maryland is the black widow spider. The brown recluse spider has been seen in Maryland, but it is thought to have been brought to the state in peoples' belongings. We will explore common habitats, behaviors, and characteristics of both the poisonous and nonpoisonous spiders of Maryland.

The black widow is native and common in Maryland, but it's not usually found indoors. Black widow females are much larger than the males, which they often kill and eat after mating. The female becomes mature in late summer and fall and is often observed hanging upside down in her web. In such an instance, you will be able to see the distinctive red hourglass shape on her underside. Some black widow females may have a few other small, red markings, especially on the abdomen.

If you see black and red on a spider in Maryland, stay away. There's a good chance it's a black widow. There are no other spiders in Maryland that look like this species and none quite as poisonous and dangerous to children. Here are some tips for staying safe:

  • Identify the Web: If you look carefully, you'll usually be able to identify the spider's irregular webs before you see the actual spider.
  • Caution When Handling Wood: If you have a wood pile outdoors, wear long sleeves and gloves when you bring wood in. Turn your wood over and check for black widows especially if you know they are in your immediate area. They are usually not aggressive, and most people are only bitten when they touch or squeeze the spider, for example, when working with wood or carrying wood in from a woodpile. If you're working outdoors where you know they are established, always wear gloves and be on the lookout.
  • Act Quickly If Bitten: Black widows will only bite you if you provoke them. They prefer to run away rather than confront you. Most bites will be sharp and painful. Medical attention should be sought out at once if you think you or someone else has been bitten—be sure to communicate this to the medical professionals; they will know exactly what to do.
  • Spray Spider Habitats: Household insecticides will kill black widows when they are hit directly with the spray. If you find the spiders in your area or in a shed, clean out the places where they can hide. Wear long sleeves and gloves while you do this. Spray the spiders and the areas where they are hiding with a strong, soapy solution. Be sure to spray all cracks. It's best to spray all the areas at least once a month.
  • Pennyroyal as a Natural Deterrent: The herb pennyroyal acts as a natural deterrent and is helpful if you sprinkle it in spider habitats. Pennyroyal can be purchased at any health food store.
  • Teach Children to Identify Black Widows: Have your children look at photos of black widows so they will know how to identify them and avoid them.

Common Black Widow Hiding Places

Rural Mailboxes

Old Sheds

Water Meter Boxes

Cardboard Boxes

Wood Piles

Tool Sheds


Basement Window Wells

Piles of Lumber

Flower Pots

Underneath Yard and Porch Benches

Trash Piles

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse Spider

While Maryland is out of the habitat range of the brown recluse spider, they are sometimes seen in the area. It is theorized that they arrived in Maryland via transport. They may have arrived in the belongings of someone who moved from an area where they do occur. If someone is bitten by what you suspect is a brown recluse, safely catch the spider in a jar and seal it in with the lid. Take it with you and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider

Wolf spiders have a leg span of about two inches. They are brown with a dark grey cross pattern on the back. Most people think that wolf spiders look furry and bulky. The species is rarely found indoors though they may enter log cabins and homes surrounded by trees. They are mildly venomous, and their bites usually only cause mild itching. Some people, however, can have an allergic reaction to the bite and should seek medical attention at the first sign of distress.

Maryland wolf spiders will come inside in the late fall when they know it's getting cold outside. They are often found in basements. I've had them run across my hand or foot without incident, but they can deliver a sharp bite. Wolf spiders are very active hunters outdoors and they eat a lot of bugs; they do not make webs. The best way to keep them out of your home is to keep bushes and vegetation cut back and away from your home. Fill any holes with expanding foam to keep them out. It is estimated that as many as 99% of all wolf spiders living outdoors are hunted down and killed by wasps.

Yellow House Spider

Yellow House Spider

Yellow House Spider

Yellow house spiders are about one-quarter of an inch long and have yellow-green bodies and darker coloring on the legs. These spiders move rapidly. Yellow house spiders usually enter the house in the late fall where they hide out until spring. They build white webs in confined places.

Cobweb Spider

Cobweb spiders will enter a home when they are small and will try to establish themselves by building a web to catch insects. If you see their web, knock it down and smack the spider with a fly swatter if you can. If you keep your house free of spider webs, you probably won't have any problem with this species. They are not poisonous.

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Jumping Spider

This is the spider that you usually see on your ceiling in the late fall. They are black and hairy and some people mistake them for black widows. Jumping spiders do not have the distinctive red hourglass shape of a black widow. As the name implies, this species moves about in jumps or short, fast runs. They can be as long as one-third of an inch and may have red or white dots on them.

Female Goldenrod Crab Spider

Female Goldenrod Crab Spider

Crab Spider

Crab spiders are often seen outdoors on flowers. They are yellow, white, or reddish in color and their legs protrude from their sides making them look like a crab. They cannot survive indoors. They are also not poisonous.

Spider Safety

  1. Always wear long sleeves and gloves when you carry in firewood.
  2. There is a product called Jungle Rain that contains pyrethrum, and you can mix it up according to the package directions and spray areas outside where Black Widow spiders may be. It is a good idea to spray down your outdoor wood pile.
  3. One drop of tea tree oil in a quart of water will kill spiders when it makes contact with them. Citronella oil, cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, and citrus oil will also work the same way.
  4. If you have a problem with spiders and spider webs in your basement or attic, mix up a solution of white vinegar and coconut oil and spray corners where spider webs and spiders reside. Mix the following ingredients as follows:
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 gallon of water

If you feel you have a real infestation of Black Widows or any other spider species, you may want to call a professional pest control company.

Leave Them Be

Spiders in the right place are really beneficial. They are hunter-trappers and they literally kill tons of insects each year. If the non-poisonous spider is outdoors in an area where it is not bothering anyone, leave it alone. They help to keep the numbers of pests and insects in control.

Most spiders are shy and harmless to humans, but poisonous ones like the black widow should be avoided. Always seek medical attention if you fear you or someone else was bitten by a poisonous spider. If you can, catch the spider in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and take it with you to the emergency room for identification.

Post Your Comments About Poisonous Spiders in Maryland. Thanks for Reading and Sharing.

Hamiel on May 25, 2019:

SpargerB I know black widows r n md ive seen them n western md

Mark on May 19, 2019:

Swanton area, Garrett Co. Just found a black funnel web spider that looks to be the variety some places ask for this species to be brought in to be milked for antivenin. After much searching I can't seem to find anything closer to this in appearance and size. Shouldn't be in this area at all if my identification is right.

SpargerB on December 03, 2018:

Michael...just because we live in MD. does not mean we don't have black widow spiders. We most certainly DO! Download a picture to help you identify one correctly. Make sure you don't have anymore if you found it in your home.

Michael on June 30, 2018:

Found thia spider its black with 3 or 4 red dots on it .I live in Maryland and I know we don't have black widows.Can you help

les on June 03, 2018:

Just threw a very large spider out of the house. It might have been a wolf spider but it looked more like a brown recluse. It has been raining like crazy and the housebacks up on woods,

Myles on November 04, 2017:

Saw a large maybe wolf spider in a web outside my front door..though they don't use webs..

Marcus Wright on June 18, 2017:

I found an all black spider with reddish orange legs... the spider looked tough... I live in Maryland does anyone know wat kind it was???

Marie Miller on October 30, 2016:

We live in the woods . I found this fluorescent orange spider in the grass what kind of spider is this ? It also has black on the back .

jeanie on June 12, 2015:

I got bit by something two and a half weeks ago by something and I still am week and I might be pregnant the bite left bite red dots on my back end and on my thigh. I vomited this mourning 3 times and there was hives on my back end the spider I saw was matte black with red oval on the back with a white dot and it was not on me but I saw it run sideways on the house and I squashed it. I felt an ant bite type sting and then 10 minutes I saw the spider on the house. Could I have been bite by a black widow spider and how can I elevate my back end so I cab elevate it. And how late can wait to get an antivenum shot.and what can I do about it if I cannot get to a emergency room right away. I am pro life first and foremost for myself and others and sav a life

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on June 19, 2012:

There are Brown Recluse in Maryland though it is said they were imported. I recently caught two Hobo Spiders which are also poisonous here in North Carolina where they are not supposed to be at all. And these two were out in the country in an old barn where they should not have been. A train track is a mile away and I think that is where they may have come from. Thanks for the comment.

Kitty Fields from Summerland on June 19, 2012:

I grew up in Maryland and my mom was actually bit by a brown recluse when she stepped out of a swimming pool years ago. When I first saw your hub and it said "black widow is the only native poisonous spider" I was thinking, " is the brown recluse". That's until I read the rest and you confirmed that there are brown recluses in MD, they are just not native. Very good article and good safety tips! Ticks are the worst though...they're not technically "spiders" but are in the arachnid family and are RAMPANT in Maryland. Voted up and useful.

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