Arachnophobia is a common phobia. Phobias, in general, are irrational fears of something. But is arachnophobia irrational? Is fear of spiders simply a hysterical emotional reaction to seeing one, or is there something in us that is innately repelled by these creatures? Some research suggests that a fear of spiders is not a learned behavior, evident from the Max Planck Institute study on babies. A group of six-month-old babies was shown different images ranging from flowers to spiders. When exposed to the spider image, the pupils of the infants became significantly larger, highlighting an increased level of nor-adrenaline. This chemical is the body’s response to stress, so a higher proportion of it indicates a higher level of stress. Thus, it appears that even tiny humans are scared of spiders.
But this doesn’t mean that arachnophobia is a desired behavior, either. Did you know that there are an estimated forty thousand species of spiders? Moreover, in some areas of the world that benefit from greater scientific study up to six hundred new species are discovered every year. Yet spiders that can cause allergic reactions in some people isn’t what you might call a deadly spider. Heck, a mosquito or an ant can send a person to the hospital. This doesn’t give them preference on deadly bug lists, so most spiders have no place on this list either.
In order for us to consider a spider to be deadly, it must either have a potentially fatal bite, or at least a bite that causes serious damage to the human health. Thus, the list below is composed of four species of poisonous spiders that are truly the most dangerous spiders with regards to threatening human life.
Brazilian Wandering Spider (Banana Spider)
The Brazilian wandering spider, also known as the armed or banana spider, belongs to the genus known as ‘Phoneutria’. This means ‘murderess’ in Greek, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. It even has a special place reserved in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s most venomous spider.
Their venomous bite contains a variety of very harmful toxins. Within thirty minutes of being bitten, symptoms vary from nausea to convulsions. Your vision can become blurred, you may experience vertigo, and you might even contract hypothermia. Luckily, fatal cases are rare, and symptoms can be treated with anti-venom.
Brown Recluse Spider
Another spider competing for the ‘deadliest spider in the world’ title is the brown recluse spider.The brown recluse spider resides mainly in America, while its relative the Chilean recluse spider is more comfortable in Latin America. Noted for the violin shape of its back, the brown recluse derives its name from its reclusive habits. It likes to hide in dark, strange places such as closets, basements, or even in unworn shoes. So, the next time you’re reaching into your closet for some running shoes you haven’t worn in a year, do a quick spider check first!
The main reason the brown recluse appears on this list of the most deadly spiders is the horrifying result of their venomous bite. When bitten by a brown recluse, the toxins in their venom can actually cause your skin to die. This is known as necrosis. The poison essentially cuts off all blood supply to the bitten area and causes the cells to die. The skin will often turn black when this happens. It’s certainly something to make you shudder while you think about all of the places this spider likes to hide. Not to worry though: these spiders are hermits. They’re not looking for a fight — so don’t give them one!
Black Widow Spider
The black widow is probably the most infamous on this list. Its relatives and counterparts across the world often make deadly spider lists, too (the brown widow, red widow, the redback spider that is found in Australia). The red widow, for example, is a very rare species only found in certain parts of Florida.
A black widow is a highly venomous species renowned for the potency of its bite. Its venom is said to be many times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. This species is marked with an unusual red hourglass pattern.
With regards to the black widow, nature has logical reasons for embedding warnings into its design. The black widow’s bite will result in severe muscle aches, nausea, and often paralysis of the area where your lungs are (the diaphragm). Fatalities from a black widow’s venom can occur but are quite rare. Kids or people with a weak immune system are more likely to die from a black widow’s bite because their body cannot fight the toxin sufficiently, but fatalities are still pretty rare.
Funnel Web Spider
The Latin name of one of the genera of the funnel web spider species, ‘Hadronyche formidabilis’, translates as ‘terrifying’. This comes as no surprise. In terms of fatality, this is the most deadly spider on the list. There are around forty species of funnel-web spiders. But it is the Sydney funnel-web spider and the Northern funnel web spider that are the most dangerous ones.
Both have venom that can be fatal to the receiver of the bite. If someone is bitten by this truly deadly spider and doesn’t receive the correct anti-venom treatment within fifteen minutes, it is highly likely they will die. There are currently thirteen recorded deaths caused by this deadly species of spider. The last recorded death was in 1981. Thanks to scientific progress, an antivenom was created to combat this spider’s deadly bite, and no deaths have been recorded since its introduction.