Discover The Top Five Largest, Most Dangerous Spiders In Nevada This Summer!

Written by Peralee Knight
Updated: January 24, 2023
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It’s time to discover the top five largest, most dangerous spiders in Nevada! Now, biggest doesn’t always equal the deadliest in the spider world, and that’s true of Nevada’s arachnids as well. However, Nevada is known for being larger-than-life, and its wildlife reflects the state’s anything-goes reputation. Let’s spin the wheel and learn more about some of Nevada’s largest spiders and just how deadly those dangerous species can be!

Top Five Largest, Most Dangerous Spiders In Nevada

Nevada has thousands of distinctive spider species, with multiple subspecies that are each as unique as the state itself. This is the home of the legendary Las Vegas, after all! The largest spiders in the state are, of course, the tarantulas, but the deadliest are small! This is typical in the spider world, where stealth and camouflage play a vital role in survival. Big or small, these five Nevada spiders are true survivors, even in nuclear conditions!

5. The Atomic Penn Jillette Spider

Atomic Penn Jillette Spider

Discovered in 2013, the Atomic Penn Jillette spider is the third largest spider on our list of largest spiders in Nevada.

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©Jason Bond, Auburn University / Creative Commons – License

Size: Up to 25 mm long

Habitat: Discovered in 2013, the species is currently only found in Mercury, Nevada

Danger To Humans: Believed to pose little to no danger to humans

Behavior: Trapdoor spider species, reclusive and mildly aggressive

Physical Description: The Atomic Penn Jillette is rusty brown and red overall. It has a thin, elongated abdomen that is light tan/beige with darker brown markings. It has very long, wide curved legs. The rear pair of legs extend far out from the body, and the front pair are visibly longer and thicker.

The Atomic Penn Jillette Spider In Nevada

This species is a recent discovery and is currently only found in Mercury, Nevada. The species was discovered by a team from Auburn University in 2013. This team examined specimens collected from Mercury’s nuclear test site in 1962. Named after the famous magician Penn Jillette, this is one of the few spider species found that has been significantly impacted by radiation from nuclear blasts!

4. The California Ebony Tarantula

California Ebony Tarantula

California ebony tarantulas are the second largest spiders in Nevada.

©Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond / Creative Commons – License

Size: Up to 5 inches long

Habitat: Deserts and scrublands of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico

Danger To Humans: Little to no danger; bite is moderately painful but doesn’t require medical attention

Behavior: Docile, nocturnal hunter that uses speed and stealth to hunt and evade predators

Physical Description: Ebony tarantulas are light brown or grey overall, with black markings covering the head and cephalothorax. Black markings are also found on the base and end of the legs. Tarantulas have thick, large bodies, powerful stocky legs, and a covering of fur-like hairs on the entire body.

The California Ebony Tarantula In Nevada

Nevada has the ideal climate and conditions for tarantulas, which are most often found in locations with dry heat and desert or scrubland habitats. California ebony tarantulas can be found throughout the state, as well as in its namesake state, Arizona, and even parts of Mexico!

3. The Western Desert Tarantula

Western Desert Tarantula 

The Blonde, or Western desert tarantula, is the largest spider in Nevada.

© Couch

Size: Up to 5.1 inches long

Habitat: Deserts and scrublands of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico

Danger To Humans: No danger to humans, lacks potent venom

Behavior: Non-aggressive and docile, popular species kept as pets

Physical Description: Western desert tarantulas are also called Arizona or Mexican Blonde tarantulas. This is due to their light tan or “blonde” overall coloring. Females are the same uniform color over the entire body. Males have black legs, a reddish-brown abdomen, and a striking copper-colored cephalothorax.

The Western Desert Tarantula In Nevada

Like the California ebony species, the Western desert tarantula is also found throughout Nevada. Due to their docile nature and stunning colors, this species is a popular pet! This is one big spider that you don’t have to fear if you run into it outside or possibly at your friend’s house!

2. The Desert Recluse Spider

Desert Recluse Spider

Desert recluses, or desert brown spiders, are the second most dangerous spiders in Nevada.

©DesertTrip / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Size: 20mm long, up to 50 mm with legs extended

Habitat: Hot, arid climates, deserts, scrublands, human dwellings, Southwestern U.S. and Mexico

Danger To Humans: Highly dangerous necrotic venom, bite requires medical care.

Behavior: Reclusive, moderately aggressive hunter that will bite if threatened

Physical Description: Desert recluse spiders are light tan overall, with slightly darker brown abdomens. Like other recluse species, they have the signature “violin” marking on their cephalothorax. The desert recluse has large visible mouth parts and extremely long, thin legs that double their size when extended.

The Desert Recluse Spider In Nevada

The desert recluse can be found throughout the state of Nevada and is a common spider in the Midwest. It is also commonly known as the desert brown spider and is often confused with its cousin, the brown recluse. In fact, this species is responsible for the brown recluse’s bad reputation. Since they are often thought to be the same animal, most people think the brown recluse is far more dangerous than it is!

Make no mistake though, bites from both species should be taken seriously.

1. Southern Black Widow

The Southern black widow is the most dangerous spider in Nevada.

©Jeff W. Jarrett/

Size: Up to 16 mm long

Habitat: dark, isolated locations like cellars or sheds, Southern United States region

Danger To Humans: Highly dangerous venomous bite that can kill in some cases. Bite requires medical care. Most bites are attributed to the female.

Behavior: Shy, timid, but will bite if provoked

Physical Description: Black widow spiders are likely the most recognizable species in North America. They are a glossy black overall color with one distinctive hourglass marking on the lower body. Despite common misconceptions that this hourglass is always red, white, or orange are also common!

The Southern Black Widow In Nevada

Nearly every region of North America has a widow spider, and there are 32 species commonly called black widows. However, some widows are brown or even red! In Nevada, the Southern black widow species are found all over the state. Despite the black widow’s well-deserved dangerous reputation, bites are uncommon. The black widow is a timid spider that goes out of its way to avoid conflict! Considering the black widow’s deadly status, that’s a good thing!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond / Creative Commons – License / Original

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