Many Oklahoma spiders live in residential areas of larger metropolitan areas like Tulsa and Oklahoma City as well as rural areas across much of the state.
From orb weaver spiders to house spiders, the rich diversity of arachnids in the state is impressive and, for some, terrifying. In the following section, we will explain some common spiders throughout the state and provide the information you need to determine if they pose a safety or health hazard.
Often found in gardens, backyards or woodlands, spotted orbweavers can vary in color from a tan color to a mixture of orange and red; however, the diversity among this species doesn’t end there because abdomen markings may also vary between individual spiders. Spotted orbweaver spiders are nocturnal and most active at night. Although it isn’t uncommon to see them during the day hiding in a curled leaf located on the outer edge of the web.
Spotted orbweavers derive their name from their unique orb-shaped webs that can be as large as 2’ in diameter. Because their webs are created from sticky spiral capture silk, they are great collectors of flying insects that are unaware the web has been constructed. If you can watch an orbweaver spider create its nest, you may be in awe as they float a link of silk into the wind to attach to another surface. As a gentle spider, spotted orb weavers are rarely found indoors and pose no safety risk.
Southern House Spider
Many homeowners across the state of Oklahoma confuse male southern house spiders with the more dangerous brown recluse based simply on their light brown color. Females often have a gray abdomen with dark brown legs and reach up to ¾ of an inch in length once fully matured. While commonly found indoors, this species of spider does not pose any risks and can help limit the populations of other insects; however, control is possible if requested.
Southern house spider webs are often identified by their woolly texture and flat and tangled construction. Outdoors, females and juveniles will spin specialized webs that can be visible on barns, houses, under trees or on bridges. As a timid species of spider, webs are often constructed in areas that will not likely be disturbed by human activity but are likely to net a large amount of other insect travel. For this reason, many people prefer to leave them alone; however, if you think it may be a brown recluse, seek professional assistance for identification.
Carolina Wolf Spider
As one of 2,200+ wolf spider species found worldwide, the Carolina wolf spider is a common home intruder in Oklahoma. Mostly spotted during the summer months, these nocturnal spiders are incredible hunters due to their ability to move quickly and attack their prey even faster. Carolina wolf spiders are primarily brownish-black in color with accents of slate-grey hair covering the body. Although venomous, Carolina wolf spiders rarely bite unless they feel threatened or cornered; however, the bite is rarely dangerous to humans and the pain it delivers resembles a bee or wasp sting.
Unlike other spiders that rely on a web to catch insects for food, the Carolina wolf spider prefers to actively hunt grasshoppers, crickets and other arthropods. Since this species is considered a poor climber they will typically be seen at the ground-level under rocks or holes. When nesting is required, Carolina wolf spiders will typically make burrows into the ground for shelter and come indoors only to seek out food. For this reason, control is rarely needed, and homeowners can generally just remove the spider from the home manually.
Most often identified by the dark brown spot on its abdomen that resembles a fiddle, the brown recluse spider is one of the most feared arachnids in the state of Oklahoma. Because their bites deliver necrotic venom that can lead to tissue damage if left untreated, medical treatment is often required for individuals that sustain them; however, brown recluse spiders are very shy and will avoid human contact whenever possible. For this reason, bites generally occur when the spider is disturbed in an article of clothing that was left on the floor or while boxes are being moved from storage.
Brown recluses can often be found inside of storage boxes that have not been disturbed for long periods. Although, they often prefer to nest in wood surfaces that are disconnected from other living things. Inside of a home, this could be in attics, crawlspaces or wall voids. In rare instances, brown recluse spiders may also nest in furniture if it is not used regularly. If brown recluse spiders are found in your home, contact a spider control professional immediately for safe and quick removal.
Rabid Wolf Spider
Although known for their aggressive behavior and even more intimidating name, the rabid wolf spider is rarely a danger to humans. As one of the most common spiders found throughout the United States, this characteristic provides welcome relief to many. While many people associated the term rabid with the potential ability to pass on rabies, the name derives from the spider’s ability to move quickly and erratically whenever it may be needed to avoid predators or catch prey. Rabid wolf spider venom rarely has serious effects and is considered medically insignificant in humans.
Rabid wolf spiders tend to nest in wooded areas or fields because of the food availability and hiding spots these large areas provide. As a nocturnal species, rabid wolf spiders don’t create nests but will burrow into holes and cover them with silk or debris. Like the Carolina wolf spider, the rabid wolf spider prefers to hunt for food by using its speed and agility instead of waiting for insects to become trapped in a created web. While rabid wolf spiders may come indoors to hunt, this isn’t an optimal environment for them, and they won’t stay long.
Southern Black Widow
Well known for its painful bite and potent venom, the black widow spider is found in both rural and urban environments across the state of Oklahoma. Black widow spiders are often identified by the red hourglass shape on their abdomen that offsets the otherwise black color the rest of their body presents. If a bite from a black widow spider occurs, it is important to immediately seek medical treatment to offset the effects that the venom may have both short term and long term. Death from black widow bites is rarely common anymore and patients can recover within 24 hours following treatment.
Black widow spider webs are generally very erratic and have no distinguishable pattern; however, this web design still allows them to catch a variety of insects for food including flies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers and other arthropods. Although most well-known as a predator to other insects, black widows may become the prey for scorpions, centipedes or wasps that are looking for a meal. Most bites from black widow spiders occur when woodpiles or stones they inhabit are disturbed or when spiders are hiding in shoes that have not been worn recently. If found, contact a pest control professional for the safe removal of this potentially dangerous arachnid.
Bold Jumping Spider
As one of the smallest spiders in Oklahoma, bold jumping spiders are primarily black with a triangular white patch. In some instances, bold jumping spiders may also have white markings on their legs and what appear to be metallic blue or green fang-like chelicerae. A single cluster of bold jumping spider eggs may contain up to 170 individual eggs, making them quick to reproduce during the mid-spring and summer months. Unlikely to bite humans, their small size makes bites particularly insignificant although redness or minor pain may occur.
While bold jumping spiders do not use a web to catch prey, they will often release a silk thread when jumping to ensure they can catch prey if they are unable to pounce on it. Bold jumping spiders can be found on a variety of surfaces both inside and outside and are commonly seen in mailboxes, on patio sets or erratically moving along wall surfaces. Unless found in large numbers, bold jumping spiders rarely require control and pose little risk to humans. During mating periods, female bold jumping spiders will care for eggs until they hatch.
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