Poisonous Spiders in New York

Written by lissa delisle
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Poisonous Spiders in New York
Northern black widow spiders are venomous, but bites are rare in New York. (black spider image by Artyom Davidov from Fotolia.com)

While New York enjoys a small spider population due to the cooler climate, there are a couple of spiders that are poisonous and should be avoided if possible. Most spiders in New York only live a year or less, and can mainly be found outside, with the exception of a few, mostly nonpoisonous, spiders that prefer dark damp areas such as cellars and porches.

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Northern Black Widow Spiders

The northern black widow spider is the best known venomous spider. While these spiders often prefer a warmer climate, the northern black widow has learnt to adapt to the cooler temperatures and can often be found indoors. The northern black widow is in the family of Cobweb spiders. They build webs in higher areas indoors and in dark areas outside, like tree stumps or under bushes, and can be identified by the red hourglass marking on its belly.

Black Widow Bites

Although black widows often retreat and hide when threatened because they are shy and timid creatures, if they do bite their venom affects the central nervous system. They have a very powerful venom, but very little death rate is reported at less than 1 per cent. The symptoms of a black widow bite include pain, almost immediately at the site of the bite, increasing for one hour up to 24 hours. In severe cases large muscles may spasm, body temperature and blood pressure rise and excessive sweating, nausea or vomiting may occur. If a bite is suspected, immediate medical attention is necessary, especially in children. Symptoms may vary in severity depending on age, size and sensitivity of the victim; the location and depth of the bite; and when the spider last used its venom.

Sac Spiders

Sac spiders are far more common in New York. Most spider bites that occur are attributed to these spiders. They are light yellow in colour and have very noticeable fangs on the front of the body. They mainly reside in the outdoors, preferring to build their habitats under rocks or loose bark. The yellow sac spiders are only moderately poisonous, and symptoms are itchy or painful ulcerating sores that are slow in healing.

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