Seen a suspicious-looking spider? You may want to make sure it isn’t one of the poisonous spiders in Mississippi. Our guide is here to make sure you stay safe.
There are several varieties of poisonous spiders in Mississippi. While you shouldn’t live your life in fear, it’s good to be able to identify them around your home so you don’t run into any trouble.
Arachnophobia (or a phobia of spiders) is one of the most common phobias. If you think about it in evolutionary terms, that makes sense. Our ancestors had to stay away from things that harmed them, and while not all spiders are harmful, they didn’t have the resources that we have now to identify one from the other.
Can you identify the difference?
We want to help. Keep reading to learn a little bit about harmful spiders, helpful spiders, and how to identify which is which.
Venomous vs Poisonous
While it’s common to look for information on “poisonous” spiders and other insects and animals (after all, that’s how you found us!), there’s actually a difference between poisonous and venomous!
Poisonous refers to what happens when the spider (or other creature) is ingested while venomous refers to the bite or sting.
For example, blowfish is poisonous when it’s prepared incorrectly, releasing a toxin more dangerous than cyanide into whatever organism is unfortunate enough to consume it.
A cobra is venomous because it injects those toxins through its fangs.
If you don’t plan on ingesting the spiders in your home, you’re looking for spiders that are venomous. Casually, the two words are often interchanged. The difference, however, is pretty big!
Are All Spiders Dangerous?
While arachnophobia makes no distinction between dangerous and non-dangerous spiders, in reality, most spiders aren’t harmful to humans.
Almost all spiders contain some amount of venom. This is alarming to many people, but don’t fret. For us, this venom is almost always painless and too minimal to cause any actual damage aside from the rare redness or welt.
Spiders don’t have venom for the sheer purpose of hurting and/or killing people. Animals that are too large for a spider to eat are undesirable and spiders aren’t programmed for dealing with them. If a spider bites you, it’s most likely a last-ditch effort to preserve its own life.
Spiders have venom to incapacitate prey. You can see this in common household and garden spiders. When a spider gets an unfortunate critter in its web, it injects it with venom to immobilize it. This gives the spider a chance to wrap it up to eat for lunch later.
As you are too big to wrap up in a web, the venom doesn’t need to be strong enough to hurt you. This doesn’t mean that some spiders don’t have dangerous venom, just that most don’t. Most spiders make themselves useful around the house by getting rid of other, more annoying pests.
Some spiders, like wolf spiders, can get quite large, making them appear threatening to humans. In reality, the size of a spider has nothing to do with how dangerous it is. While they may have bites that pinch, they won’t cause you any real harm.
How to Tell If a Spider Is Poisonous (Or Venomous) to Humans
There’s no one hard and fast rule that you can go by to identify venomous spiders, but there are a few things that you can look for to give yourself a general idea of whether or not you should trust this spider.
We’re going to go over a few identifying factors and then apply them to the spiders in your Mississippi home. There are some factors that don’t apply to venomous house spiders in the United States (like bright colors, for example) but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a few things to look for while you’re identifying this spider.
There are only a few common venomous spiders in the Mississippi area, and they all have somewhat distinctive appearances.
While there are copycats of each one, it’s a good idea to avoid these spiders until you can know for sure that they’re friends, not foes.
Brown Widows are the distant cousin of one of the most well-known venomous spiders that turns up around the country (more on those later). The Brown Widow is somewhat new to the Mississippi area, having originated in either Africa or South America and made its way to the Gulf Coast states and several large California cities later on.
Brown Widows have bites that are venomous to humans, but they don’t often cause serious effects. They aren’t able to inject as much venom as other venomous spiders, who while the venom itself is similar, their bites aren’t as effective at bringing down large “prey” or attackers.
Most Brown Widow bites are similar to the bites from any other particularly feisty household spiders. You may get a welt or a rash and it will hurt, but you’ll feel no adverse effects (most of the time). Because there are rare cases of the venom being dangerous, it’s still best to stay aware of these creepy crawlies
These spiders may look like any other house spider from first blush, but if you look closely, you’ll notice a few distinctive markers.
Brown Widows have a similar silhouette to Black Widows. They have a pinched “waist” and a round abdomen. They have long and spindly legs that are light brown with dark brown stripes.
While the colors don’t have as much contrast, these spiders have the telltale hourglass on their abdomens. These hourglasses are orange and wide at the bottom.
Brown Widows like to live in cool and dark places like buckets or the damp corners of garages and basements.
Brown Recluses are venomous but misunderstood. While their venom is very harmful to humans, they don’t want to attack you. As their name suggests, they’d rather be left alone.
When a Brown Recluse bites a human, it may be painless at first, or feel like a soft pinch. This is part of the problem with these spiders.
Their venom is strong enough to kill a human in 24 hours, but that result is uncommon. Most people will get a painful rash in the affected area that may turn into an open sore. Brown Recluse venom appears to dissolve the flesh. It kills all nearby cells.
When someone starts to notice these physical manifestations of venom it’s important to see a doctor. They may begin to experience nausea, fever, and insomnia.
While these spiders pack a punch, they’re not hard to identify (and they’re often over-identified, meaning that a lot of people suspect a Brown Recluse when the spider is really harmless). The problem is that they like to hide, so finding one in plain sight in order to identify it before it bites is tricky.
There are two distinctive features that a Brown Recluse has. They have a dark brown violin shape on their backs. The “neck” is close to their thorax while the “body” is closer to their eyes.
Speaking of eyes, while most spiders have eight, Brown Recluses only have six. While you might not want to get close enough to check, this is a great way to tell if you’re looking at a Brown Recluse or an innocent house spider.
Their bodies are longer than those of the Widows on this list, and it has more of an almond shape that’s light brown and appears almost soft if you get close enough to check.
Black Widows are one of the more “famous” venomous spiders. While they’re feared by many, there have been no reported Black Widow deaths since 1983 and thousands of people do not seek treatment for Black Widow bites.
Bites may result in no symptoms at all. Sometimes Black Widows give warning bites, or “dry bites” that contain no venom. If there is venom, you might experience some muscle aches, fatigue, fever, and increased blood pressure.
While these bites aren’t deadly (most of the time), they should still be assessed by a medical professional.
Unlike the other two on this list, they’re black. They share a shape with the Brown Widow, with the long spindly legs and round body, but the clear sign of a Black Widow is the bright red hourglass on its back.
There are fake black widows that share the hourglass, but they tend to be larger than the true Black Widows.
Because these spiders are so easy to spot and identify, they’re also the easiest to remove from your home.
Have You Seen One of These Poisonous Spiders In Mississippi?
There are several varieties of “poisonous” spiders in Mississippi, but you shouldn’t worry too much about them. They all live in cool and dark places and prefer to mind their own business.
That said, if you identify one of these spiders in your home, it’s best to send it away. While you can do it on your own, these spiders may have egg sacs hanging around where you can’t see them. It’s best to hire a professional.
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