As a homeowner, few things are as startling as coming across a spider in your house. While most species of spiders are not truly dangerous, the presence of these eight-legged arachnids can be unsettling—especially when you don’t know how dangerous the spider in question is. There are fifteen different types of spiders in Arizona, so most homeowners will encounter one at some point in their life. To help you deal with this common issue, we’ve put together a guide to common spiders in Arizona and important information you should know about them.
Are common house spiders dangerous?
While most spiders you encounter are likely mostly harmless, there are a few species with venomous bites that can land you in the hospital and can potentially be fatal for pets and small children. If you’re seeing signs of spiders in your home, the first thing you should do is figure out what species you’re dealing with. Check out the list below to learn about some common spiders and ways to identify them.
Despite what their name might make you think, Hobo Spiders do not carry little knapsacks over their shoulders. Instead, these spiders are more easily identified by their plain brown legs and light-and-dark-striped brown abdomens. Hobo Spiders rarely grow larger than half an inch, and they build tunnel webs with flat sheets of webbing extending out to either side. Male Hobo Spiders often enter homes in search of female spiders, and are typically more aggressive. While it is generally believed that their bites only cause redness and irritation, they can easily be confused with their more dangerous look-a-like’s, such as the Arizona Brown Spider. For this reason, they should always be approached with caution or handled by a professional.
Giant House Spider
Giant House Spiders can be hard to miss thanks to their two-to-four-inch leg span! These arachnids are mostly harmless: like all spiders, their bites are venomous, but they are not powerful enough to harm people or pets. They are also nocturnal and tend to prefer to build their sheet webs in tucked away places, such as the corners of ceilings, under cabinets, and in basements. They are often confused with Hobo Spiders, but their larger size is an easy way to distinguish them.
Southern House Spider
Like the Giant House Spider, the Southern House Spider is a harmless and shy species. Females are known for building webs inside of cracks and crevices, where they will wait for insects to wander into their webs before ambushing them. Southern House Spiders range from black to brown in color depending on the sex, and often have rounded abdomens that are lighter in color than the front part of their bodies. Adults span from a half to three-quarters of an inch in size, and they can easily be removed from homes or outbuildings with just a broom.
Carolina Wolf Spider
The Carolina Wolf Spider gets its name from its skill as a hunter (of bugs, not humans, thankfully)! Growing to about an inch in size, these spiders are most active at night, and they are known for their ability to move quickly and blend in with leaves and dirt on the ground. One of their key features is the tan stripe that can be seen on the front part of the body. A fun fact about these spiders: rather than leaving their young tucked away somewhere, they carry their egg sacs with them on their backs until they hatch! While they are rarely aggressive, a threatened Carolina Wolf Spider can deliver a bite which is equivalent in pain to a bee sting.
Giant Crab Spider
Few spiders are as intimidating in appearance as the Giant Crab Spider. Also known as the Huntsman Spider due their tendency to ambush prey rather than wait idly in a web, they are a fast-moving and large spider with a leg span of up to two inches! Unlike Carolina Wolf Spiders, Giant Crab Spiders can climb smooth surfaces and will often be seen on walls and ceilings. They get their name thanks to their legs, which stick out at 90-degree angles from their bodies and allow them to move sideways with easy—an ability not common in most spiders. Their abdomens are marked with a dark stripe, and they are usually light brown in color. While they are not likely to bite unless provoked, their bites can be painful, although not life-threatening.
Western Desert Tarantula
Due to their massive size—with adults growing as large as a teacup saucer!—the Western Desert Tarantula is often assumed to be dangerous. However, these large hairy spiders are both non-confrontational and relatively harmless. In the rare times they do bite humans, their bites are often less painful than a bee sting. They are easy to identify thanks to their small eyes, large bodies, and the short pedipalps at the front of their bodies, which resemble an extra set of small legs.
What is the biggest spider in Arizona?
The biggest spider in Arizona is the Western Desert Tarantula, which can grow up to 5-inches in size and can often be as large as a person’s hand. The Giant Crab Spider and Giant House Spiders are also notably larger than most other types of spiders in Arizona. Thankfully, none of these three spiders are harmful to humans.
Are there poisonous spiders in Arizona?
There are two common venomous spiders in Arizona. While the majority of local species are harmless, it often takes a professional to accurately identify the sort of spider you’re dealing with. For this reason, your best bet is to approach all spiders with caution. Below you can find the two venomous spiders in Arizona and their distinguishing features.
Southern Black Widow
The Southern Black Widow is perhaps the most notorious and easily-identified venomous spider. They have shiny black bodies, round abdomens, and a bright red hour-glass shape on their undersides, making them easy to recognize. The bite of a mature female Southern Black Widow contains a neurotoxin which can cause fever, chills, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and many other serious symptoms. Their bites are often deadly to pets and small children. They build sparse, strong webs in hidden away areas near the ground. For this reason, it’s all too easy to put your hand directly into one’s web without realizing it’s there. Always proceed with caution when reaching into any dark place you cannot see.
Arizona Brown Spider
The Arizona Brown Spider, closely related to the notorious Brown Recluse Spider, can be identified by its three sets of eyes—unlike other spiders, which typically have eight eyes. While these spiders also bear the fiddle-shaped marking on the front of their bodies that is associated with many recluse spiders, they are often so light brown and uniform in color that the marking is hard to distinguish. The bite of one of these spiders can cause necrosis, and if left untreated can cause massive tissue death and scarring. Much like Southern Black Widows, they thrive in dark, tucked away places.
How to get rid of spiders
While there are only a few truly dangerous types of spiders in Arizona, it’s safe to say that you may not want to share your home with any spider at all! Whether you just find them creepy or don’t want to risk a bite, your best bet for getting rid of spiders is working with a local pest control company. When you try to handle an infestation on your own, the risk of misidentifying a dangerous spider is high. Here at Defense Pest Control, our experts have spent years eliminating spider infestations quickly and safely. If you’re not sure what sort of spider you’re dealing with, our experts can help.