If you stumble across a spider in Tennessee, it is probably harmless. Of all the different kinds of spiders found in Tennessee, only two are poisonous: the black widow and the brown recluse. Bites from these spiders are rare since they are not aggressive and only bite when they feel threatened. Unfortunately, many of the other spiders in Tennessee are mistaken for brown recluse or black widow spiders and are often killed unnecessarily.
The brown recluse is one of two poisonous spiders found in Tennessee. It is a medium-sized spider about the size of a 50-cent piece. Its color ranges from light yellowish-brown to dark reddish or chocolate brown. You can identify it because its second pair of legs is longer than the other three pairs and it has a violin-shaped dark marking on its body. The brown recluse does not build webs, but prefers to live in secluded locations and capture its prey. It is one of two poisonous spiders found in Tennessee.
Cobweb spiders make messy and disorganized webs and have a larger, rounder abdomen than other web builders. The most famous, and most poisonous, cobweb spider is the black widow. Both the northern and southern black widow spiders are found in Tennessee. The two look very similar, although the northern is slightly larger and has a split in its hourglass shape. They can be black or dark to reddish brown and are notorious for having a red hourglass marking on their abdomens. However, this marking may be orange, white or missing altogether.
A less famous but more common cobweb spider in Tennessee is the American house spider. This brown spider is often mistaken for the brown recluse, although they are smaller and rarely found outside of their webs. It is about the size of a nickel. Also, its bite is not poisonous and only dangerous to people who are allergic.
Wolf spiders get their name because they are large, hairy spiders that are a mixture of black, gray and brown. Like most other spiders in Tennessee, they are not poisonous and only dangerous if someone is allergic to them. Like all other brown spiders, they are often mistaken for brown recluse. Wolf spiders are usually found outdoors and move very fast.
Orb weavers are easily identified by their spectacular, organized, circular webs they often build in doorways and window sills. They range in size and can be quite colorful. The black and yellow garden spider is one of the largest varieties at almost 3 inches long. Although they appear creepy, they are harmless. Other orb-weaver spiders found in Tennessee include the marbled, six-spotted, arrowshaped Micrathen, spined Micrathen, Venusta orchard and labyrinthine orb weaver spider.
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; Urban Spider Chart; Blake Newton, et al.
- Tennessee Poison Center: Poisonous Spiders in Tennessee
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; Brown Recluse Spider; Mike Potter
- The University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service; The Brown Recluse Spider; Harry Williams, et al.
- The University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service; The Black Widow Spider; Karen Vail, et al.
- University of Kentucky Department of Entomology; Cobweb Spiders; Blake Newton
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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