The Deadliest Spiders in the World

Phobias, in general, are irrational fears of something. Arachnophobia is a common phobia, but is it irrational? Is the fear of spiders simply a hysterical emotional reaction to seeing one? Or is there something in us that makes us feel innately repelled by these creatures? 

Some research suggests that a fear of spiders is not a learned behavior.

In the Max Planck Institute’s study on babies, they showed a group of six-month-old babies different images ranging from flowers to spiders. When exposed to the image of the spider, the infants’ pupils became significantly larger, highlighting an increased level of noradrenaline. This chemical is the body’s response to stress, so a higher proportion of it indicates a higher level of stress. It seems like 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 40,000 species of spiders? In some areas of the world, they discover up to 600 new species every year. Of all of these spiders, how many are deadly?

Spiders that can cause an allergic reaction in some people aren’t what you might call a deadly spider. Just a mosquito or an ant could send certain unlucky people to the hospital! This doesn’t give them a place on the deadly bug lists, so most spiders have no place on this list either.

For us to consider a spider to be deadly, it must have a potentially fatal bite or one that causes serious damage to human health. For that reason, the list below includes four species of poisonous spiders, which are truly the most dangerous spiders in the world in terms of the danger they pose to humans.

The Brazilian Wandering Spider (Banana Spider)

banana spider

The Brazilian wandering spider is also known as the armed spider or banana spider. It belongs to the Phoneutria genus, meaning “murderess” in Greek. So, it should be no surprise that this is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. It even has a special place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most venomous spider.

This spider’s venomous bite contains a variety of very harmful toxins. Within 30 minutes of its bite, your 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 an antivenom will cure most victims.

The Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse

Another spider that is competing for the title of “deadliest spider in the world” is the brown recluse spider. The brown recluse spider is mainly found in America.

Its relative, the Chilean recluse spider, is more comfortable in Latin America. Known for its violin-shaped back, the name of brown recluse comes from its reclusive habits. It likes to hide in dark, strange places like closets, basements, or even in unworn shoes.

So, the next time you reach 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 its venomous bite. If bitten by a brown recluse spider, the toxins in its venom can actually cause your skin to die. The poison essentially cuts off all blood supply to the bitten area and causes the cells to die, which is known as necrosis. The skin will often turn black when this happens.

This is certainly something to make you shudder when thinking about all of the places this spider likes to hide. There’s no need to worry, though; these spiders are hermits. They’re not looking for a fight—so don’t give them one!

Read more about brown recluse spider look-alikes here

The Black Widow Spider

Black Widow

The black widow is probably the most infamous spider on this list. Its relatives and counterparts across the world (the brown widow, red widow, the Australian redback spider) often make deadly spider lists, too. 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 that is famous for the potency of its bite. Its venom is many times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. The black widow has an unusual red hourglass pattern on its back that makes it easy to identify.

Nature has logical reasons for embedding warnings into this design. The black widow’s bite results in severe muscle aches, nausea, and often paralysis of the diaphragm (the area where your lungs are). Fatalities from a black widow’s venom can occur but are quite rare.
Children or people with weak immune systems are more likely to die from a black widow’s bite because their bodies can’t fight the toxins sufficiently. Fatalities are still pretty rare, though.

The Funnel Web Spider

Funnel Web Spider

The Latin name of the genera of the northern funnel-web spider, Hadronyche formidabilis, translates as “terrifying.” This comes as no surprise since, in terms of fatalities, this is the deadliest spider on our list. There are around 40 species of funnel-web spiders, but the Sydney funnel-web spider and the northern funnel-web spider are the most dangerous ones.

Both have venoms that can be fatal to those they bite. If this truly deadly spider bites someone and they don’t receive the correct antivenom within 15 minutes, it’s highly likely that they will die. 

There are currently 13 recorded deaths caused by this deadly species of spider, the last of which took place in 1981. Scientists were able to create an antivenom to combat this spider’s deadly bite and no deaths have been recorded since its introduction.

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