Harmless & Poisonous Spiders in Pennsylvania

Creepy crawlies are not normally a pleasant surprise, especially when you find them in your house. One of the most fear-inspiring of these creatures is the spider. There are over 37 unique species of spiders that can be found in Pennsylvania, which is enough to make any arachnophobe want to jump out of their skin. However, despite an overwhelming negative stigma, spiders are generally harmless creatures.

Often, these eight-legged creatures are more afraid of you than you are of it. For the most part, spiders tend to leave people alone and are very good exterminators themselves. The key to avoiding a spider bite is staying aware, especially when gardening or moving things around. You never know when you may run into one.

While most spiders are harmless, there are a few that can be very dangerous, and potentially fatal should they bite you. The best way to handle an arachnid issue is by knowing what you are up against. Here are some common spiders found in Pennsylvania.

harmless and poisonous spiders in Pennsylvania what tops the list-common yellow garden spider

Common Spiders

While we may think every single spider can potentially do us harm or have deadly venom, often then ones we encounter would rather run and hide. These spiders can pop-up everywhere: in your home, in your yard, or hideaway in your basement or garage. Typically, the spiders listed bite very rarely or not at all. While they may not be pleasant roommates, they do not pose a direct threat.

  • Common house spider – small, brown and very common. They can be found just about anywhere. Very few bites reported.
  • Long-bodied cellar spider (Daddy Long-legs) – have long, thin legs. Usually found in sheds, attics, garages, and basements. Do not bite.
  • Yellow Garden Spider – yellow with black stripes. Females are larger than males. Usually found in weeds or on porches. Normally won’t bite unless protecting their eggs.
  • Grass Spiders – large, yellow-brown. Found in fields/pastures. Fast and shy; rarely known to bite.

Jumping Spiders

These spiders do not spin silk; they jump instead. These spiders are leap-hunters by trade and any silk they do spin they use to keep them from falling great distances. Commonly, jumping spiders will hide and spring onto their prey.

  • Bold jumping spider – Small, hairy, black and white, noticeable eyes. Shy creatures – they rarely bite humans.
  • Dimorphic jumping spider – Males Can be black with yellow legs, or grey, with red, white and black markings. Females usually follow the second description. Found normally in trees or vegetation. Shy – rarely bite humans.

Other Hunting Spiders

Jumping spiders are not the only arachnids that hunt their prey differently. These spiders stalk and attack their prey. These nocturnal creatures are more aggressive and tend to attack humans. In addition to stalking, these spiders will build funnel webs to capture unsuspecting victims.

  • Wolf Spider – Very common. Large, dark brown-grey in color with an “alien” face. Night hunters. Found in dark places. Will bite – but have non-potent venom
  • Barn Funnel Weaver – Reddish-brown in color with yellow hairs. Found in barns, sheds, or other outdoor storage areas. Fast and shy – not biters.
  • Cross Orbweaver¼ inch to ¾ inch long. Yellow-brown in color with wavy lines and black spots. Found near outdoor lighting. Will bite humans.
  • Parson spider – Hairy black and white spider. Found in leaf piles, under boards or rocks. Rarely attacks humans, but bites are painful.

harmless and poisonous spiders in Pennyslvania what tops the list.- the hunting wolf spider

Poisonous Spiders

Finally, these are spiders you should watch out for. While, like most spiders, these creatures will leave you alone, they will bite if they feel threatened. These spiders can produce very harmful bites, even deadly if not treated.

  • Black Widow – Latrodectus mactans. All black spider with bright red hourglass marking. Web-builder. Bites can go unnoticed; venom can disrupt the muscles and nerve routes leading to heart failure
  • Brown Recluse – Brown with a violin-shaped pattern and long legs. Found in warm, dry locations or undisturbed areas. Power, venom. Bites carry severe symptoms and eat away at the tissue.
  • Broad-faced Sac Spider Black with bright red legs. Hides under leaf piles, board, windowsills, and other dark areas. Hides sin silk shelter. Produces a painful bite with a severe secondary infection.
  • Woodlouse hunter Reddish-orange color with a cloudy white abdomen. Found under rocks, in the ground or under leaf piles. The bite is painful and causes localized itching erythema.
  • Long-legged sac spider ¼ inch and light yellow or cream in color. Found inside homes often in corners or on walls. Will bite when threatened. The bite is painful and burning, followed by itching and blistering.

harmless and poisonous spiders in Pennyslvania what tops the list- the poisonous black widow

Your Friendly-Neighborhood Spiders

While this little creepy crawlies can be frightening and sometimes dangerous, they are more likely to shy away from humans than to bite. Be mindful of your surroundings and get the facts to better prepare yourself when you come across the next long-legged friend.



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