Spiders might give you the heebie-jeebies, but they’re an important part of the ecosystem. Here in Florida, they help to control the population of some 80 different species of mosquitoes. While many Florida spider species are helpful, there are a couple whose venomous bites are harmful to humans. Here we’ll review some of Florida’s most common spiders, how to identify them, and when it’s time to call in professionals for extermination.
Harmful/Harmless: Relatively harmless. They are not aggressive but may bite if poked at. In general the bite will result in a small red bump and only hurt for a day or so.
Defining Features: The American house spider is brown, speckled with white and dark patches and lines. They have a bulbous abdomen. This spider is small – only about 6mm, or 2.5cm with their legs sprawled out.
Favorite Hiding Spots: Corners of your home, where they make the classic looking cobweb.
Harmful/Harmless: Harmless – though their tendency to jump may give you a fright! They may bite if threatened but their venom is not harmful to humans.
Defining Features: Two different species generally reside in Florida: the grey wall jumper and the pantropical jumper. Both species are furry around their legs and abdomen and typically appear to have a stripe down their backs. They have relatively large furry pedipalps (the leg-like structures at the front of their bodies). The range from 8-12mm in length.
Favorite Hiding Spots: Jumping spiders are hunters and prefer the outdoors. If found inside, they are usually there by accident or in search of other insects.
Harmful/Harmless: Harmful (in general, females only). They generally only bite when they feel threatened. The venom spreads through the lymphatic system in 1-3 hours, causing muscle pain, local sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
Defining Features: Females are easily identified by the red hourglass shape on the underside of their abdomens. They generally have black shiny bodies and are relatively large, measuring at 1.5”.
Favorite Hiding Spots: Dimly lit, tight spaces like woodpiles, cluttered kitchen cabinets, garages, and basements.
Harmful/Harmless: Harmful. These bites start looking like a small bump or pimple, and after a few days, redness will start to spread with the bite at the center beginning to turn white and then blue.
Defining Features: Recluses are brown to reddish brown in color. Many (but not all) recluses have a violin shape on their back, where the neck of the violin points to the abdomen, which is furry. ALL recluses have six pairs of eyes, unlike most spiders which have eight eyes total. They are no more than 3/8“.
Favorite Hiding Spots: Recluses like cardboard because it is similar to tree bark. They prefer small dark places like shoe boxes, bedding, furniture, and clothing.
To help identify more common house spiders, take a look at this list of common Florida spiders from the University of Florida. To learn more about harmful spiders in Florida, review this information from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If you determine you’re in need of spider extermination, or if you’re unsure, call the experts at Guaranteed Pest Control at 954-284-1601.