Poisonous Spiders In North Carolina

Updated on April 14, 2016

Only two poisonous spiders are found in North Carolina: the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Both are found across most of the state. A bite from a black widow spider can cause severe neurological problems; a bite from the brown recluse spider can cause necrosis of the tissue surrounding the bite site. The bite of either spider can kill you in extreme cases. Young children are the most at risk from spider bites.

1. The Black Widow Spider

Black widow spiders are common in North Carolina.
Black widow spiders are common in North Carolina.

The black widow spider is black with a distinctive red hourglass shape on its abdomen, as you can see in the picture above. The spiders usually hang upside down in their webs, so you can often see the red hourglass. The female spider hangs her egg sac high up in her web, and she will attack anything that tries to take it or interfere with it. So do not touch the web or egg sac of a black widow spider. This spider can strike quickly, and the bite is painful and in rare cases can kill people. The very young and people already sick with other illnesses are at most risk.

Black Widow in Motion, Filmed in North Carolina

2. Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider Is smaller than most people realize. Notice it beside the penny.
The brown recluse spider Is smaller than most people realize. Notice it beside the penny.

The brown recluse spider can be easily identified from the violin shape on its head that points to its back. Also it has six eyes, uncommon for a spider. The photo above shows how the brown recluse is only a little bigger than a penny; it is almost never larger than a U.S. quarter.

Keep in mind that in some parts of North Carolina the brown recluse spider is known as the fiddle-back spider.

Although both types of spiders can be found indoors, the brown recluse spider is more often found inside North Carolina homes than the black widow. Brown recluse spiders like to hide in dry cool places, and if you live in North Carolina and have cardboard boxes under your bed or in a closet or attic, you may very well have brown recluse spiders living right there in the house with you.

Brown Recluse Spiders Love Cardboard Boxes

Brown recluses seem to be especially attracted to cardboard, and they are often found hiding in cardboard boxes or under their flaps. Use care when going through items that have been stored in cardboard boxes for a while. If you know you live where brown recluse spiders are, the best thing to do is not store items in boxes. Keep your house very clean with nothing stored under beds or on closet floors and you should be able to keep your house spider-free.

If you must store items in cardboard boxes, then purchase pennyroyal (at a health food store, for example) and sprinkle it in your cardboard boxes. It will keep all kinds of spiders including brown recluses from making a home in your boxes.

What a Brown Recluse Spider Looks Like

Brown Recluse Spider Bites In These Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Early Stages Of A Brown Recluse Spider BiteSevere Damage From A Brown Recluse Spider BiteBrown Recluse Spider Bite After A Few Days On A Persons Leg
Early Stages Of A Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Early Stages Of A Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Severe Damage From A Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Severe Damage From A Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Brown Recluse Spider Bite After A Few Days On A Persons Leg
Brown Recluse Spider Bite After A Few Days On A Persons Leg

Brown recluse spiders are timid and do not often bite people, unless they are pressed or trapped against someone's skin. Often there are no effects from the bite but a little redness. But in some cases, necrosis of the tissue around the bite site can occur, and people can even end up losing a finger, hand, or limb from the bite of a brown recluse.

The Way You Keep Your Yard Can Keep Spiders Away

Keep bushes and trees cut back away from your house; bushes or trees touching your house will help spiders find a way into your house. Keep your gutters clean. Seal up any cracks or holes.

Check your house's screens at least a couple of times a year and make sure that the screens fit tightly and that the screens themselves have no holes. Be sure that screen doors or storm doors fit tightly. If you see a cobweb on your house, wash it off with your hose pipe. Keep the floors of outbuildings clean, and consider having outbuildings and garages treated for spiders by a pest control company just before the start of cold weather.

In the late fall, when you know cold weather is coming, the spiders know too, and they will be trying to find a way into your home. Use a pressure washer and spray down the outside of your home with a strong insecticide soap. Don't forget to spray out the window wells of basement windows as this is a favorite place that spiders like to live.

Black widow spiders cannot stand being sprayed with a strong soap solution. It will get rid of them every time. A strong soapy solution will also get rid of brown recluse spiders. If you keep making spiders feel unwelcome they will go away and won't return.

If you see brown recluse spiders or black widow spiders inside your house, even in the attic or in an attached garage, you should call in a professional exterminator. It's very important that you don't allow the spiders to live and multiply inside your house.

Lime Will Keep Spiders Away From Your Woodpile

If you think spiders are making a home in your woodpile, wear long sleeves and gloves when handling firewood.

If you suspect that black widow spiders or brown recluse spiders are living in the woodpile, wash the pile down with a good insecticide soap to get rid of the spider problem.

When you make a new woodpile, dust the ground where your woodpile will be with lime and then lay two 4" X 4"'s down to stack your wood on. Toss a bit of lime in among your stored wood and it will keep the spiders from moving in. Don't make your firewood pile in the same location every year. Change locations often and you'll have fewer spiders.

You will find that if you do all these things that your home will have far fewer spiders. They will move on and find a more hospitable place to live, hopefully somewhere down the street.

Spider Safety

1. Spiders like to hide in cardboard boxes in closets or under beds. If the boxes have been stored a while, use gloves when going through the box or boxes.

2. Don't reach into dark areas without wearing gloves. If you can't see your fingertips, wear gloves.

3. If you think there could be brown recluse spiders in your house, always shake out shoes or boots that have not been worn in a while before you put them on. The same thing goes for coats and sweaters that have been stored all summer, or canvas tarps or life jackets that have been stored all winter. Shake all these items out very well before you use them, because people will sometimes put on a coat or sweater that's been stored all summer and get a spider bite.

4. If you think you've been bitten by a brown recluse spider or a black widow spider, apply ice or a cold pack to the bite and seek medical attention at once. If you can catch the spider in a jar with a lid, do so. Take it with you to the doctor or emergency room. Even if you killed it, put it in something and take it with you.

5. Some people can have an allergic reaction to nonpoisonous spider or insect bites. If a person gets a bite and it becomes red and swollen, or they have difficulty breathing, take that person to a doctor or an emergency room at once. The elderly, children, and people who are already sick with some other illness are at the most risk from a spider bite.

6. Call your Poison Control Center if you think someone has been bitten by a poisonous spider or is having an allergic reaction to a spider bite. The number for the Poison Control Center in North Carolina and many other places is 1-800-222-1222.

Carolina writing spider (golden silk orb weaver)
Carolina writing spider (golden silk orb weaver)

Carolina Writing Spiders Are Harmless

Writing spiders, or golden orb weaver spiders, are found all over North Carolina, but these spiders are not harmful to you and they will eat large amounts of bugs each year. I have a large number of these spiders that live in my yard and garden each year and I don't allow anyone to harm them. Charlotte, in the children's story Charlotte's Web, was a writing spider.

If you live in an area where brown recluse spiders and black widow spiders live, you should sit down with photos of the spiders and educate your children on what the poisonous spiders look like. Tell them to never approach these spiders and to let you know if they see one of them in your home or yard. In North Carolina these are the only two poisonous spiders that you have to worry about.

Did you know that worldwide there are 40,000 species of spiders and they are all carnivorous? Spiders are beneficial insects and they should be left alone, if they are in your yard or garden, as long as they are not poisonous. In the United States there are only four spiders that are poisonous: the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider, and the yellow sac spider. In North Carolina we have only the first two. The average spider consumes about 100 bugs a year and you are never more than about 12 feet away from a spider. Most spiders are harmless. The only thing that spiders do is hunt for food and make more spiders.

Spiders kill more bugs than birds do and the total weight of bugs that spiders consume in one day will be more than the weight of all the humans on earth. Can you even imagine that? Spiders only live for about a year. Their hairy legs contain their organs for hearing, touch, and smell. All spiders inject a chemical solution that liquefies the inside of their prey, and then they suck up the goodies.

Fun Spider Facts

1. Well this one may not be too fun: An average person, during their lifetime, will eat seven to ten spiders while they are sleeping.

2. One spider egg has as much DNA as is contained in four humans. And that is in just one spider egg.

3. There actually exists an extremely rare spider in the eastern parts of Africa that is snow white in color but spins black webs.

4. No matter where you are living, you are never more than 7-10 feet from a spider.

5. Always wash new or used clothing when you purchase it. This is the way that most spiders find their way into your house.

Chart of Poisonous Spiders

Questions & Answers

    Post Your Comments Below. Thanks for Reading And SHARING.

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      • profile image

        martin mocha 12 days ago

        It's NOT poisonous spiders or snakes, its VENOMOUS!!! Get it right. Poison is absorbed or ingested, VENOM IS INJECTED via fangs (chelicerae), a stinger or probascus.

      • profile image

        FatLoser21 5 weeks ago

        this was cancer

      • profile image

        Daniel 5 weeks ago

        I should mention, the "eating spiders during your sleep" thing isn't true. It was made up. There is no way to scientifically measure that. How many experiments have been carried out over the length of a human life and measured, every night, if/when a spider were ingested? Then there's location- does this "fact" apply to everyone, everywhere on earth?

        I love the majority of your article- it convinced me not to be afraid of the Carolina Writing Spiders outside- but please remove this non-fact.

      • profile image

        Jessie 5 weeks ago

        First of all, spiders are venomous. Calling them poisonous makes you sound pretty stupid to us that actually know about spiders. Second, like doesn't actually do anything for spiders. It just ruins your lawn. Third, WE DO NOT EAT SPIDERS IN OUR SLEEP! seriously, did you just take fake facts off the internet and stick them in a very informative page? Lastly, most spiders bite. They are not harmless. Do yourself a favor and read up on spiders before posting a publicly wrong post on spiders. Oh, and a majority of the time, depending on the gloves, they can still bite through.

      • profile image

        boy 7 weeks ago

        Liked your article

      • profile image

        justin 7 weeks ago

        the other day i was working in the yard when i was a spider crawling on my shoulder away from my back, my shirt was low enough so he could bite my back. the spider had long legs and a medium body, it was white/ very light brownish. when i went inside it looked like i had been scratching but i hadnt. the next day i was at tennis practice and i noticed my arm was weak/tired and just wasnt right, a little while into practice i feel this burning sensation in just one spot on my back (where i was already assuming i had been bit). i had my mom and dad look at it and they said it was swollen and is sore, it even hurts when the shower water hits it. someone please let me know what king of spider you think it is

      • profile image

        hi 7 months ago

        I have a Phobia of spiders

      • profile image

        chad roberts 7 months ago

        I live in the mountains of nc and i found a red back spider on my pool last night i did kill it with stick is this something we should be considered about at first i did think it was a widow but the markings were wrong .it was shiny black and a brite red strip on the back of the spider.

      • profile image

        Dan Sizemore 8 months ago

        Well i live in central NC north of Charoltte. Was bitten by a brown recluse and 10 yrs later still have the scars and sunken spot on my left arm to remind me that they are here!!!

      • profile image

        Richard Wrenn 8 months ago

        Writing spiders may not be poisonous but they will bite the sh!t out of you if you mess with them im speaking from experience trust me!

      • profile image

        John 11 months ago

        As a medical provider, it is articles like this that perpetuate the lie of the Brown Recluse. First, the spider itself is not found"across most of the state". As a matter of fact, their distribution barely reached into the western part of the state and even there they are exceedingly rare. Moreover, at least inside the US, there have be 0 documented cases of death from a Black Widow Spider bites. And to close, you misidentified many photos and spiders in this article. This is not a personal attack, but more of a FYI for people reading this hokum.

      • profile image

        dee 11 months ago

        I am not an expert, but this article seems to be not too scientific.

        First off, almost all spiders are poisonous. The degree of toxicity is what varies. The only spider I know that isn't poisonous is an Australian web casting spider, if I recall. As an example, the false black widow that is quite common is about as poisonous as the real deal.

        Secondly, the banded yellow garden spider has always been called a garden spider and not an orb spider. Their are orb spiders that are specifically called that, not just because they make a round web.

        Thirdly, all spiders have not been identified as of today, at least not with a common name. So trying to pigeon hole every spider as to traits and genome will be an ongoing endeavor for quite awhile.

      • profile image

        Daddy long legs 11 months ago

        Another poisonous spider in north Carolina is the daddy long leg, they just cant bite us since their mouth is too small

      • profile image

        Spider lover 12 months ago

        Spiders are not poisonous. They are venomous. Poison is ingested while venom is injected.

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        Julie 13 months ago

        That middle picture isnt even a brown recluse bite. I know this because I have the original photos taken by my husband in SE asia more than twelve years ago. It was a scorpion and the crane operator lost his thumb and index finger. Funny how photos get around.

      • crazyhorsesghost profile image

        Thomas Byers 4 years ago from East Coast , United States

        The Brown Recluse is the most dangerous because of the necrosis. I had a friend who was bitten on the thigh and she died 11 weeks later. She was a healthy 44 year old female when she was bitten in her attic.

      • SolveMyMaze profile image

        SolveMyMaze 4 years ago

        Cool hub, I had no idea that there were poisonous spiders in the USA, let alone so many varieties. It's shocking that for such a small spider, the Brown Recluse can cause such a damaging level of necrosis if left untreated.

      • crazyhorsesghost profile image

        Thomas Byers 5 years ago from East Coast , United States

        Thanks for your comment. It is appreciated.

      • aviannovice profile image

        Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

        This is definitely a word to the wise. Excellent educational material, and very simple solutions, too. Good article!

      • Stephanie Henkel profile image

        Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

        Since buying a house in North Carolina, I have been concerned about the poisonous Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders that are found here. We do know people who have been bitten by the brown recluse, and it's a nasty and painful thing! Thanks for the tips on keeping spiders away, and the great photographs to help identify them! Voted up and useful. Shared with followers!

      • KevinTimothy profile image

        Kevin J Timothy 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

        Thanks for creeping me out. I had no idea about the cardboard fact. Its too bad that spiders have always had a terrible stigma because they're honest very remarkable creatures. They're agile, have an I.Q. through the roof, water resistant, and vigilant.

      • profile image

        Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

        Always find these two in the garage every summer without fail. Good tips for keeping them away!

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

        Thanks for the interesting hub, as always. There is also a variation of the Black Widow Spider in the Brown variety and although it does not have the markings of the black variety is the same size and can deliver the same nasty bite. You probably already knew this.