Everyone seems to be afraid of spiders. It’s not often that someone is quick to hold a spider in their hand or pet it. People have a near-universal reaction to spiders that could be described as unwelcoming. Considering how common the human fear of spiders is, it’s helpful to know what spiders are worth being afraid of and which spiders you can simply walk by without a care in the world.
Hint: the number of relatively harmless spiders is almost equal to the number of all spiders.
5. Most spiders in North America pose no serious threat to humans.
It’s true, most spiders are nearly harmless to people. The wolf spider is a common enough spider and does pack a bite that gives a sting. Still, its bite isn’t considered toxic by scientists.
While some people can be allergic to the bite of the wolf spider, people can also be allergic to pollen, which is much more common in certain seasons than wolf spiders. Barring serious allergic reactions, widow spiders and recluse spiders are likely the only kinds of North American spiders posing a serious threat to human bite victims.
4. The hobo spider likely isn’t toxic to humans.
According to Live Science, the hobo spider has been little more than a scapegoat. In fact when testing verified bites from the hobo spider, it turned out necrosis, or the death of skin cells, was not observed in people suffering bites from this misunderstood, but still relatively large, spider.
3. Brown recluse spiders are not harmless to humans, but bites are extremely rare.
Brown recluses are deeply misunderstood creatures.
Wired has an enlightening article discussing their relative lack of danger. While a bite from the brown recluse can cause necrosis, it often doesn’t. Furthermore, brown recluse spiders can’t bite through socks, pajamas, or any other clothing. In fact they can only bite through skin that is particularly thin. Also, they’re called “recluses” because they tend to be, well, reclusive. Imagine that.
While they do prefer indoors to outdoors, they also prefer places unpopulated by humans to places where humans are constantly gathering. Most times, brown recluses only bite when they fear they’re about to be crushed, and even then not all their bites result in necrosis.
2. A family once lived with more than 2,000 brown recluse spiders in their home and none of them were ever bitten.
A scientific study published by the United States National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health concluded that even though well over 2,000 brown recluse spiders were living in an occupied family home in Kansas, not a single person in the home was ever injected with brown recluse venom. Furthermore they concluded most doctors diagnosing brown recluse bites in emergency rooms are giving the wrong diagnosis.
1. Most black widow bites aren’t deadly either.
One shouldn’t rush out to be bitten by any spider, most especially a brown recluse or a black widow. These kinds of spider bites definitely do pose a significant threat to humans.
However, approximately three out of five black widow bites produce something called a “dry bite.” This is a skin puncture via the spider’s fangs, but resulting in no venom being injected into the human. It may hurt a little, but a dry bite results in little more than temporary, localized pain. You can, of course, still crush the offender in pursuit of revenge. This is a personal decision.
That said, an other-than-dry bite from a black widow is likely to ruin your plans for the next week or so, or if left untreated, it could ruin plans for the foreseeable future.