venomous spiders in ohio

Venomous spiders in Ohio

Last updated on February 1st, 2023 at 10:04 am

While some might think of it as a northern state, there are still a few venomous spiders in Ohio. In total, three of them are medically significant…

Venomous spiders are everywhere, and Ohio is no exception. Though all of them will retreat rather bite if given the option – accidents do happen. Two Black Widow Species and the Brown Recluse are Ohio natives which can give medically significant bites. We’ll look at these, and some of their common but less harmful relatives.

Yellow Sac Spider

venomous spiders in ohio
Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium sp.)

If you see a yellow sac spider in Ohio, it is probably when working in the yard or garage. These spiders are common in many areas, including the Midwest and southern US.

That why we’ve included them here: They aren’t highly venomous, but are involved in a lot of bites because they like to hide in old tyres and similar clutter. Often, people get bit by accidentally squashing one with their hand.

While they can be small and easily overlooked, they have a reputation for giving annoying bites. The only real danger associated with this spider is that its bite can pierce tissue and therefore has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in rare cases, just like a bee sting.

The Yellow Sac Spider bite is not as painful as a Black Widow spider’s bite and doesn’t cause necrosis or swelling, but it is still an unpleasant experience.

This spider lives in a wide range of habitats, including foliage, but can also inhabit a manufactured structure. Because it is nocturnal, it only comes out during the night.

Yellow Sac Spiders are generally encountered outdoors, or in a hot environment. Wearing gloves when doing yard work is the best way to avoid a bite.

Symptoms of Yellow Sac Spider bites include:

  • localised pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • a sore that takes time to heal.

Brown Recluse Spider

venomous spiders in ohio
The Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa)

If you live in the state of Ohio, and you’re really unlucky, you might be a victim of a brown recluse spider bite. These spiders are venomous and can seriously damage your body tissue.

Though their venom and bite is often greatly exaggerated by the media, it is true that they can cause painful bites and other effects. Some of these are from the bite, whereas others can be from infections that set in afterwards.

They include:

  • nausea
  • sweating
  • palpitations
  • fever
  • headache
  • pain at the site of the bite
  • bruising or ulceration at the bite site

There are several things you should know about these spiders and their behavior. This is a shy spider with six eyes, and its web is covered in silk. While it is happy living outdoors, it can attracted to clutter and furniture indoors which is convenient to hide behind.

Unlike black widow spiders, which have extremely toxic venom, the Brown Recluse Spider in Ohio has a much lower venom concentration than its counterpart. Its bite can be dangerous, but it is rare that it causes serious complications.

The Brown Recluse Spider is often found in abandoned buildings, caves, old cars, garages, basements and lumber piles.

Grass Spiders

venomous spiders in ohio
American Grass Spider

Venomous grass spiders in Ohio are not a threat to humans. These arachnids live on and around grassy areas and are often misdiagnosed as something else.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to identify them. First, they like to live in grass (sorry for stating the obvious)! Second, they make a distinctive, funnel-shaped web with a circular opening. This has earned them the nickname of “funnel webs” in some regions, even though they are not at all related to true funnel web spiders.

Grass spiders may be small and harmless, but they can grow large by the end of the summer. Despite their size, these spiders will seek shelter in your home during the winter months.

While they rarely bite humans, their bites can be very painful. Fortunately, they are not life-threatening, but it’s best to avoid them altogether unless you are a spider enthusiast like yours truly.

The venom from a grass spider will not harm you, but it is still going to be annoying.

Symptoms include:

  • itching
  • redness
  • swelling

Northern Black Widow

venomous spiders in ohio
Northern Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus variolus). Notice that the hourglass marking is incomplete – this is how you ID the species vs its the Southern Black Widow

The Northern Black Widow is the largest of the venomous spiders found in Ohio. Its reddish coloration helps it to be easily identified. These spiders prefer to live in uninhabitable areas, including basements, woodpiles, and fences.

Some will even live in outdoor toilets. Although they are not aggressive, they can still bite if startled or threatened.

These venomous spiders are found throughout Ohio, but they are most common in the southern part of the state. The venom of this spider is extremely lethal, and a bite can also cause an allergic reaction.

The female redback spider has a broken, red hourglass-shaped mark on the underside of its abdomen, and often a row of red spots on top of it. The male spider is about half the size of the female and has longer, slimmer legs. He also has red spots or even stripes on top of the abdomen.

Envenomation symptoms include:

  • pain that starts at bite then spread to whole body
  • cramping
  • vomiting
  • sweating
  • shaking

Southern Black Widow

World's deadliest spiders
Southern Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans)

If you live in Ohio, you should be aware of the presence of several venomous spiders. In the southern half of the state, both Northern and Southern Black Widows are present.

Unlike other venomous spiders, the Southern Black Widow is a shy, nonaggressive spider. Their bites are extremely painful, but most people who get bitten by one typically make a full recovery.

This type of spider prefers old buildings and debris as their habitat. They will usually be in a web 99% of their lives, waiting to ambush prey.

Unlike the northern species, southern Black Widows tend to be a deeper black colour and have a full hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomen.

Summary – which are medically significant (dangerous)?

SpeciesMedically significant?
Yellow Sac SpiderOnly in the case of allergic reaction (rare)
Brown Recluse SpiderYES
Grass SpidersOnly in the case of allergic reaction (rare)
Northern Black WidowYES
Southern Black WidowYES

FAQs about venomous spiders in Ohio:

How common are brown recluse in Ohio?

The Brown Recluse is not common in Ohio as a whole, and only occurs in significant numbers in the south of the state. In the northern third of Ohio, Recluse Spiders are comletely absent from some areas.

While the bite of a brown recluse spider is usually not deadly, it can be very uncomfortable. The venom acts by restricting blood flow in the capillary bed, causing the tissue nearby to die.

In severe cases, antibiotics and skin grafts may be needed. The spider’s bite can also be contaminated with tetanus spores, requiring an appropriate treatment.

If you think you may have encountered a brown recluse spider in Ohio, the first step is to learn the characteristics of the species. A brown recluse spider has a violin-like marking on its cephalothorax.

Are Wolf Spiders in Ohio poisonous?

There are four species of significantly venomous spiders in Ohio. These spiders are not dangerous to humans but do pose a threat if they bite. The yellow sac spider, recluse spider, and southern/northern black widows are considered dangerous species. Wolf Spiders on the other hand, are harmless. They’re medium-to-big, sturdy-looking spiders, but have very weak venom and are reluctant to bite humans.

are there any spiders without venom?
Wolf Spider on the hunt

What’s the biggest spider in Ohio?

In Ohio, the biggest venomous spider is the Carolina wolf spider, which has a leg span of four inches and a body length of 1.5 inches. Other large spiders are the fishing spider, grass spider, nursery web spider, and the wood spider. The common house spiders in Ohio are the cobweb spider and the false widow, which are sometimes confused with black widows.

Other resources related to venomous spiders in Ohio:

COMMON SPIDERS OF OHIO f i e l d g u i d e

Ohio’s biting spiders – spidersrule

Poisonous Spiders in Ohio – Go2-Pros

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