Texas is home to a lot of dangerous animals! Whether it’s snakes, scorpions, or something else, Texas is basically the Australia of the United States. When it comes to spiders, however, Texas is surprisingly tame! Today, we are going to take a look at the venomous (poisonous) spiders in Texas and see which ones you should be wary of. Let’s get started!
What is the difference between venom and poison?
Before we find out what dangerous spiders live in Texas, we need to understand the difference between venom and poison.
The presence of venom is a common evolutionary adaptation that many animals have. Essentially, venom is a toxic substance that needs to be injected into the body in order to be dangerous. When a venomous snake or spider bites you, they inject venom with their fangs. Once the venom is in the body, the specific effects can vary but are usually quite negative.
Poison, on the other hand, is a trait that relates to digestion. If something is poisonous, it needs to be ingested to be dangerous. Most snakes and spiders aren’t poisonous; they’re venomous.
The rule of thumb is that venom needs to be injected, and poison needs to be swallowed.
What are the species of venomous spiders in Texas?
There are only two species of venomous spider species in Texas; the black widow and the brown recluse.
While this may seem like a small number for a state as large as Texas, there are actually only two truly dangerous species in the entirety of North America.
Let’s explore a bit more about these two species of dangerous spiders.
The black widow is easily one of the most famous spiders in the entire world. Black widows are well known for their shiny black bodies, spindly legs, and red hourglass shapes across their back. Male black widows are usually brown and much smaller, with the females having the characteristic look most are familiar with.
Black widows have a highly toxic venom that they inject through their fangs. They primarily use their venom to kill small insects but will bite in self-defense if threatened. Black widow venom is more potent than rattlesnake venom, but the amount they can inject at a time makes them significantly less dangerous than most venomous snakes.
If bitten, common symptoms are:
- abdominal cramping
- skin lesions
Black widows are found throughout most of the state but usually prefer areas where they will be left undisturbed. Common places to find black widows are eaves, woodpiles, outdoor boxes, and even portapotties!
Brown recluses are probably more common than black widows, although they aren’t as well known. Brown recluses are flatter, brown, and have a small heart or violin shape on their backs.
While the black widow has a venom that can affect the entire body, brown recluse venom is much more localized. Their venom is more necrotic and often causes a painful and damaging reaction area around the bite but has less potential to cause the entire body to react.
Common symptoms include:
- colored lesions around the site
Brown recluses live in closer proximity to humans and are more commonly encountered. The most common places to find brown recluse spiders are basements, crawlspaces, garages, floorboards, and personal items left in the dark.
Are black widows more dangerous than brown recluses?
Between the two, brown recluses probably have the most common bites recorded in the United States, but the black widow is generally considered to be more deadly. The venom of a brown recluse can be deadly, but death is usually from a secondary infection caused by the localized tissue necrosis that their venom causes. Black widow bites are more serious and can cause a widespread systemic shock. Although death is possible, fatal bites are extremely rare, especially with modern medicine.
Are any other spiders dangerous?
While there are dozens of spiders that are considered to be toxic in the United States, none are a real threat to humans. Most spiders have fangs that are too weak to penetrate human skin, can’t inject enough venom to be dangerous, or don’t have extremely toxic venom, to begin with.
There are a few spiders that can potentially cause a small lump or painful bite area, but death is nearly impossible.
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