Texas is home to approximately 900 different species of spiders. Some of these species are just a part of Texas’ vast and wide ranging ecosystem, while others pose a real threat to humans and should be avoided at all costs. Read below to learn more about a few of the harmless spiders you will find in Texas and the most dangerous, too.
The grass spider is a type of spider that, as their name suggests, lives within the grass of your home’s front and back lawns. Female grass spiders are larger than male grass spiders, measuring approximately ten to twenty millimeters in length. The smaller male grass spider measures about nine to eighteen millimeters long. The upper shell of a grass spider is yellow-brown in color and has two stripes which run lengthwise across their bodies. The abdomens of these little critters will often appear to be darker in color than the rest of them.
Grass spiders will generally only live for approximately one year. Similar to other spider species, the mating ritual of grass spiders is what usually ends the life of both mating parties. Shortly after mating with the female, the male grass spider will die, and after the female lays her egg sac, she will die too. After overwintering and hatching in the spring time, the grass spider eggs will go through various molts and then become full adults in the later summer months.
The Agelenidae family to which the grass spider belongs is made up of about 1,200 spider species. Each of these species, including the grass spider, are famous for the way they build their webs in a funnel like weave. Instead of crafting a web up high and catching flying insects, the grass spider will build its funnel-shaped web close to the ground and trap crawling insects. Unlike other spider species that have sticky webs which are hard to escape from, the grass spider web is not sticky. However, these webs are carefully constructed in a way that makes it hard for their victims to make a getaway. Once the grass spider has caught its prey, it will then swiftly makes its way over to its victim to inject it with venom. This venom will paralyze the grass spider’s prey, allowing them to easily feed. Although grass spiders are able to paralyze and kill their prey, these particular spiders are not technically poisonous to humans, as their fangs are too small to penetrate the skin of humans. However, people who have physically thin skin, including babies and the elderly, are more vulnerable to grass spider bites, as the fangs of the spider may be able to penetrate this especially thin skin.
Grass spiders can be easily mistaken for wolf spiders, hobo spiders and domestic house spiders because of their appearance. One excellent way to distinguish a grass spider from these other spider types is by their unique funnel shaped webs. If you come across a grass spider, it is likely that the spider will shy away from you, as they do not actively seek out humans. It is only if they feel threatened that the grass spider might bite you. If they do successfully penetrate the skin of a human, the venom can kill the skin around the bite, giving high risk to bacterial infections.
Longbodied Cellar Spiders
Also known as a “daddy long leg” spider, the long bodied cellar spider can be found in most dim and moist places around your home including cellars, sheds, crawlspaces, garages, barns or basements. These spiders have an oval shaped body which can range in color from light brown, gray or yellow. The body of a full grown female longbodied cellar spider will measure approximately seven to eight millimeters in length, while her legs alone can measure up to forty-five to fifty millimeters long. Fully grown male longbodied spiders will have a body length of about six millimeters. These spiders have eight very long, thin legs with eight eyes. Their abdomens are cylinder shaped and are less wide than they are long. This particular spider can sometimes be confused with harvestmen. Harvestmen are arachnids who are similar in appearance to the longbodied cellar spider, but they are not spiders. Harvestmen can be distinguished from longbodied cellar spiders by their reddish, oval bodies.
The longbodied cellar spider will hang upside down in its loosely constructed, irregularly shaped web and wait for its prey. Common victims of the longbodied cellar spiders include insects and other spiders. If a longbodied cellar spider detects prey nearby, it will pulse its body to make its web shake. This motion helps to capture any potential insect or spider in the web that will then become the longbodied cellar spider’s next meal.
On average, longbodied cellar spiders live for approximately two years. Throughout the course of her life, the female longbodied cellar spider will produce one to three egg sacs. Each of these sacs will hold thirty to sixty eggs. The sac resembles an unripened blackberry and will be carried around in the female longbodied cellar spider’s mouth until the eggs hatch. A commonly held myth about these spiders is that they are among the most dangerous in the world, but their mouthparts are too small to pierce human skin. Fortunately this myth is not true and at any stage of the long bodied cellar spider’s life, it is not harmful to humans. These spiders are regarded as nuisance pests due to their large and unsightly webs in your home.
Also called the “giant crab spider” or “banana spider”, the huntsman spider measures twenty to twenty-three millimeters in length. The body length of the female huntsman spider is generally larger than that of the male and is brown in color with a tan band around the upper body section, or carapace. Male huntsman spiders have longer legs than females with bands running lengthwise along their abdomens and a cream colored band on their upper body section. Instead of spinning webs to catch their prey, huntsman spiders depend on their speed to capture their victims which include insects and various other invertebrates.
Female huntsman spiders lay their eggs in sacs which hold approximately two-hundred eggs. They will carry these sacs under their bellies or hide them away in bark or under a rock until hatching occurs. If you encounter a female huntsman spider with her egg sac, she will usually be more aggressive as she attempts to protect her unborn.
It is worth noting that the huntsman spider is often mistaken for the very dangerous brown recluse spider, as they can sometimes look similar in appearance. However, brown recluse spiders generally do not exceed one half of an inch in body size while the huntsman spider is often times much larger. Huntsman spiders are considered to be harmless to humans, but can produce some uncomfortable side effects if they do bite. A bite from a huntsman spider is rare, as these arachnids are known to run away from humans rather than become aggressive.
The Gray Wall Jumping Spider
The gray wall jumping spider is a relatively small spider, measuring about four to eighteen millimeters in length. These spiders have a layer of dense hairs covering their bodies with front legs that are thicker and longer than their other legs. Gray wall jumping spiders have eight eyes situated in three rows. In the front row, they have four eyes with the two middle eyes being very large. Interestingly, these small spiders are equipped with the best day time eyesight of any spider species. Their superior eyesight allows them to see and act upon movement up to eighteen inches away. This is beneficial to the gray jumping spider, as they do not spin a web and wait for prey to become entangled, but instead, they hunt for their food, including small insects. However, when night falls, the gray wall jumping spider’s vision degrades and their eyesight becomes poor.
The gray wall jumping spider earned its named from its tendency to jump from place to place and when attacking its prey, can jump up to twenty-five times its body length. You will usually find the gray wall jumping spider outdoors in your yard or barn. If found inside, it is usually by accident, as the gray wall jumping spider does not prefer to live alongside you and your family on the interior of your home. If you do find a gray jumping spider in your house, it will likely be hanging out around windows and doors. Gray wall jumping spiders do not pose a real threat to your or your family. Although they do produce venom, it is not considered to be threatening to humans.
Which Spiders To Avoid in Texas
Black Widow Spiders
As one of the most dangerous and most poisonous spiders found in Texas, the black widow spider should be diligently avoided if spotted in or around your home. If you do find that your property has a presence of black widow spiders, you should seek professional spider control services immediately. Black widow spiders have black or dark brown bodies with the famous red hourglass shape on their bellies. These spiders have long legs, a round body shape and are about three to ten millimeters in length. Young black widow spiders do not resemble adults and will appear to be white and orange in color.
Black widow spiders craft their webs in intricate and irregularly shaped patterns near the ground. If you find spider webs resembling this description on your property, you might be dealing with the presence of black widow spiders near your home. These dangerous spiders prefer to live in outdoor areas that are covered, including in firewood piles, under decks and in hollow tree stumps. If a black widow spider does take up residence on the indoors, they will usually do so in dark and sheltered spaces like basements and garages.
Only female black widows can bite humans. If you are bitten by a black widow spider, you may feel nothing more than a pin prick at first. However, within approximately fifteen minutes, you may begin to experience localized cramps. Then, after three hours and up to twelve hours, you may experience symptoms such as clammy skin, labored breathing, increasing pain, cramps and delirium. Most who are bitten will recover from the bite within three to five days. However, a black widow spider bite will require immediate medical attention.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Another spider species in Texas that you should actively avoid is the brown recluse spider. You can identify a brown recluse by the unique dark brown, violin shape on their backs. These dangerous spiders have a round body and are approximately one-fourth of an inch long. They can be found in dark, dry environments such as woodpiles, basements and closets. If you are bitten by a brown recluse spider, the bite can take up to three hours to fully develop and if severe, can take up to three weeks to completely heal. Fortunately, brown recluse spiders will usually only bite if they feel threatened or are provoked. Some people may suffer an allergic reaction to a brown recluse spider bite which will require immediate medical attention. Even if you have not been bitten by a brown recluse, it is important that you seek the help of pest control professionals to rid your property and home of these dangerous and highly venomous spiders.
Although spiders can appear to be frightening, some of these critters are beneficial to the environment and to the earth’s delicate ecosystems. However, this does not mean that you should have to live with a spider infestation in your home and especially an infestation of dangerous spiders such as the black widow or brown recluse. Armed with the knowledge about different types of spiders in Texas, you can now make informed decisions about spider control in your home and how to recognize if the spiders you spot around your property pose a threat to you and your family.