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How to identify Arkansas spiders

Updated July 20, 2017

Arachnophobes heading to the mid-west of America might want to familiarise themselves with the local eight-legged life before setting off on holiday. Many different types of spiders live in the US state of Arkansas. Some of them are poisonous and some are harmless. Find out the differences between these spiders so you know how to react when you find a spider indoors or nearby outside.

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  1. Check to see if the spider has a body that is 2.5 cm (1 inch) or more in length, without including the leg span. If it does, then the spider is most likely a Dark Fishing spider, Black and Yellow Garden spider or an Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula.

  2. Estimate how the length of the spider's leg span. If it's around 7.5 cm (3 inches) long and the spider is a dark brown colour with light and dark grey markings, then it might be a Dark Fishing spider. These spiders enjoy living near water or dark, damp places. They can run across water to hunt for prey, do not spin webs and are just poisonous enough to cause minor redness and necrosis near bites.

  3. Check to see if the leg span of the spider is about 6.25 cm (2 1/2 inches) long and look for yellow and black markings with a white area near the head. If your spider fits this description, it is likely to be a Black and Yellow Garden spider. Bites result in only mild itching and swelling for a couple days, though it is believed their bites could inject a very small amount of neurotoxin as well.

  4. See if the spider has a leg span close to 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) in length and if it's dark brown in colour with a very hairy body. This could be an Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula. Keep in mind that smaller spiders with this appearance could still be a tarantula if it is not fully-grown. Arkansas Chocolate Tarantulas, along with almost all tarantulas, pose no threat to humans, which is why many people choose to keep them as pets.

  5. Don't attempt to measure the leg span of smaller spiders. It's much easier to tell these spiders apart by looking for distinct traits or markings. In Arkansas, these spiders could be Bold Jumping spiders, Agrarian Sac spiders, Hentz’s Orbweavers, Black Widows, Brown Recluse spiders or Trapdoor spiders.

  6. Look carefully at the spider to see if it is black with a white marking on its back. Also, if the spider is jumping around, this is another big sign that the spider you are looking at is a Bold Jumping spider. These spiders are aggressive with a bite that hurts but lacks any dangerous poison.

  7. Check to see if the spider is a pale yellow colour with a smooth exterior. If it is, then your spider could be an Agrarian Sac spider. These spiders are quite common in Arkansas, and they are the cause of many small, irritating bites for gardeners and other people who regularly work outside.

  8. See if the spider has a leg span of about 3.75 cm (1 1/2inches) long with a very round body. This spider is most likely a Hentz's Orbweaver spider. It's easy to tell when these spiders are around, because they weave huge webs up to 1.8 metres (6 feet) in diameter to catch flying insects outside. These spiders don't bite humans.

  9. Look at the colouration of the spider and see if it is black with a red hourglass-shaped pattern on its underbelly. If it is, then it is almost certainly a Black Widow. These spiders have extremely poisonous venom, and commonly hang upside down from their rough, messy webs.

  10. Check to see if the spider is brown and smooth with a violin-shaped pattern on its back. If it fits this description, then the spider is most likely a Brown Recluse spider. These spiders are very poisonous, aggressive and enjoy hiding in soft places like the arms and legs of clothing, bedding or pillows. Their bites are painful and can cause necrosis, so get medical help straight away if you're bitten by a Brown Recluse.

  11. See if the spider in question is black in colour, has a "V" shape marking on its back, and is found near or in a burrow. This is a Trapdoor spider. These spiders are not dangerous to humans.

  12. Go online to view photos of specific spiders so that you know what you're dealing with.

  13. Warning

    Always seek medical attention if bitten by a poisonous spider. Serious symptoms may not appear until up to eight hours after the initial bite. If you can, try to catch the spider that bit you so that you can present it to medical officials for identification.

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About the Author

Writing professionally since 2008, David Boston has been published on eHow, Suite101, and other websites. Boston currently holds a B.A. in political science from the University of North Florida. He has presented original research at the ACSP Annual Conference, and will be attending the University of Maryland - College Park in the fall of 2010 to pursue a master's in community planning.

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