The World’s 12 Most Terrifying Spiders!

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most terrifying spiders
Can Arachnophobia Be Selective? by GollyGforce licensed under CC BY 2.0

SPIDERS!!!! IDK about you, but they scare the bejesus out of me! I mean even Stephen King thinks they’re creepy! So then, I thought it only logical to scare myself further by taking a look at the 12 most terrifying spiders known to man (and woman!)

Black Widow by DirtyOpi licensed under CC0 Public Domain

1.Black Widows. Aptly named, these are among the many femmes fatales of the spider world. Female spiders periodically eat their mates. Scientists wonder if it’s less about a biological imperative and more about the female having no more use for the male and deciding that, well, he’s a convenient snack. Black widows’ shiny black appearance and trademark red hourglass strike fear into their human neighbors. Their venom is a powerful neurotoxin that can cause extreme pain, nausea, abdominal pain, cramps, difficulty breathing, and other amazingly fun symptoms! Black Widow bites are rarely fatal, but you’re going to be in big trouble if you don’t seek medical attention after getting bit by one of these red bellied rascals.

Wolf Spider by danielpaz1 licensed under CC0 Public Domain

2.Wolf Spiders. These fast-moving spiders with horror-movie eyes aren’t very dangerous, though their bite can cause serious pain. A wolf spider mother is unusually attentive, defending her young and letting them ride on her back for weeks. This may sound cute until you’re faced with one, its back seething grotesquely with dozens of little spiderlings. And if you accidentally swat at one without seeing this spider nursery, the explosions of tiny spiders will certainly be a rather unsettling surprise, as in I would probably faint. And the worse thing? These beasts can live up to 11 years old!

Wandering Spider by Bernard DUPONT licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

3.Brazilian Wandering Spiders. Phoneutria – Greek for Murderess! These long-legged spiders add a lot to the horror lore of the animal kingdom and rightfully so. You may have heard them called banana spiders because of the instances of them traveling long distances in bunches of fruit.

Actual documented cases are rare, but popular with the media and on the internet. You’ll hear stories of infestations so bad that people have had to move. You’ll hear tales of bites causing severe systemic symptoms including vertigo, convulsions, and a certain awkward and painful condition that can only happen to men. OK, I’ll tell, this isn’t exactly a professional website after all – you’ll get an erection lasting many hours, I know, sounds fun, but wait for it —– possibly leading to impotence. Guys – stay away from this one. Stick to Viagra 😉

Some scientists consider Brazilian wandering spiders to have the most deadly venom of any spider, but others argue that this is misleading since they’re unlikely to deliver a deadly dose and we do now have an effective antivenom. Still…they’re undeniably creepy.

Australian funnel web spider
Australian Funnel-web by fir0002 licensed under GFDL 1.2

4.Australian Funnel Web Spiders. Native to Australia, and made up of 35 different sub-species. Of that, 6 sub-species have been recorded to deal sever injuries to humans – most likely the kingpin, Atrax Robustus being responsible for most of all of them. They spin funnels or line burrows with their silk. Then they spin trip wires to alert them to passing prey.

These nightmarish spiders have a dark shiny carapace and distinct fangs. Venom from the males is one of the most dangerous in the world, and has been known to kill a human child in just 15 minutes! [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_funnel-web_spider]. But in the 1980s scientists developed an antivenom. There have been no recorded deaths since.

Goliath Bird Eater Tarantula
Goliath Bird Eater by John licensed under CC BY 2.0

5.Tarantulas. You might find these huge, fuzzy spiders endearing, Maybe you see them as the teddy bears of the arachnid family. Yeah, I don’t. People keep them as pets (I prefer puppies). Of the many species of tarantula (~900), none are dangerous to the levels of being fatal. However, some give painful bites, and can be venomous – although the toxicity of that venom is lesser than a bee sting.

Out of the ~900 species, the Goliath Bird Eater gets a special mention here. In terms of pure mass (weighing over 6.2oz), this is the largest spider in the world. The female of the species can live up to 25 years! Males can live up to 6 years but soon die after maturity. Ah, as is life :/

giant huntsman spider
Giant Huntsman Spider by Bernard DUPONT licensed under CC BY 2.0

6.Giant Huntsman Spiders. How can the largest spider in the world not make this list! End to end – these things can span 1 foot! They are not as heavy as the Goliath Bird Eater, but do beat it out on leg span. Discovered fairly recently in 2001, these monsters have a nasty bite that might cause nausea, headaches and even heart palpitations. In my case, probably myocardial infarction upon sight.

It makes me wonder, if it’s taken us thousands of years to discover this beast of the spider world – what else haven’t we discovered?

Hobo Spider
Hobo Spider by lcspiderlab licensed under CC BY 2.0

7.Hobo Spiders. These critters are a part of the “Funnel-web” spiders, but not in the same sub species as the Australian Funnel-web. They are relatively common, and found in the United States and Canada, as well as being distributed from Europe to Central Asia.

Also called aggressive house spiders, Hobo spiders are the source of much debate about their danger to humans. For example, in Canada, scientists concluded the spider’s bite would not cause Necrosis [Source: http://www.cfp.ca/content/50/8/1098.long]. However, the CDC and other government agencies report many cases of Necrosis [Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00042059.htm] Perhaps it could be that the spiders have developed greater toxicity and are more venomous in different parts of the world? Regardless, the safe bet is not to get bitten!

Ogre Faced Spider
Ogre Faced Spider by Zleng licensed under CC BY 2.0

8.Ogre-Faced Spiders. Yup, just the name of these spiders is enough for it to make the list. These tropical stick-like spiders aren’t dangerous, but their huge eyes and fangs are alarming. They’re clever hunters, spinning small net-like webs and then literally throwing them over their prey, like scary spider cowboys or like Gnaeus and his fearsome net from Spartacus! (They are also known as Gladiator Spiders!).

What’s more, they can reuse nets, and often store them on leaves. Stored nets have 2 purposes. They can be used for future hunting, or if the spider is particularly hungry, they will eat them!

As scary as they appear, the good to news, is that they’re relatively non-aggressive to humans, and while their bite may contain some venom, they are considered not dangerous to us. [Source: https://australianmuseum.net.au/net-casting-spiders]

six eyed sand spider
Six Eyed Sand Spider by Beliar spider licensed under CC BY-SA

9.Six-Eyed Sand Spiders. These southern African arachnids camouflage themselves perfectly with the sand and lay in wait, giving you quite a surprise if you chance to disturb one. They can also go an entire year (?!?) without a single meal or drop of water, making them quite the durable spider.

Their venom is extremely potent, some toxicology reports concluding that this is the most venomous spider on the planet. Their venom can cause extreme necrosis resulting in literally breaking your red blood cells apart. There’s no antivenom. Luckily they’re very shy, and we have no well-documented cases (and only 2 suspected cases) of them biting humans and injecting venom. The suspected cases, however, are rather grim. One man died of hemorrhaging, the other lost an arm due to extreme necrosis.

Their population is very dense in Southern Africa, as is their number of sub species. Almost 40,000 different species of six eyed sand spiders have been documented. However, arachnologists hypothesize the actual number of species to be somewhere around 200,000 due to their ability to hide and blend into their surroundings!

brown recluse spider
Brown Recluse Spider (Pict 3) by Lisa Zins licensed under CC BY 2.0

10.Brown Recluse. These spiders like hiding in quiet, dark spaces in and around your house — just waiting. If you disturb them, they may feel threatened and bite, often causing pain, itching, fever, and vomiting. The site of the bite commonly blisters, and will sometimes necrotize.

Occasionally, it’s not just a few of your skin and fat cells that die. Instead, a wide necrotic lesion opens, proving difficult to heal and often leaving significant scars. The brown recluse bite is rarely fatal, especially for adults, but it’s no picnic.

The violin shape on their back helps identify them, but it’s not an absolute, as the violin shape is also present on other spiders such as pirate spiders and cellar spiders. The one tell-tell sign that it is a Brown Recluse, is the fact these spiders have 6 eyes, grouped together in pairs. Most spiders in fact have 8 eyes.

Darwins Bark Spider
Caerostris Darwini Web Span by Lalueza-Fox, C.; Agnarsson, I.; Kuntner, M.; Blackledge, T. A. licensed under CC BY 2.5

11.Darwin’s Bark Spiders. These things are just terrifying! This is a newly discovered species of orb-weaver spider, the type of harmless spiders responsible for classic spider webs. This particular species, however, can build webs that span rivers. Yes. Rivers. One web was purported to stretch over 80 freaking FEET as pictured above! Imagine walking into that! That’s some straight up Lord of the Rings stuff happening there.

Also to note, it’s spider silk is reported to be the toughest biological materials ever studied – over 10 times as tough as a piece of comparable Kevlar! [Source: https://www.livescience.com/8686-itsy-bitsy-spider-web-10-times-stronger-kevlar.html] Good luck getting out of that web, Gandalf!

Camel Spider by Siamaksabet licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

12.Camel Spiders. These look like the result of a cursed union between a scorpion and a spider. Legend has it that they disembowel camels and eat people. Obviously this is untrue, but you may have seen photos of soldiers in the desert holding up what look to be three-foot-tall camel spiders. This is trick photography. In reality, they’re much smaller, though “smaller” here might mean six inches. Most people agree: that’s quite long enough.

Another interesting fact is that the Camel spider is not actually a spider! I had trouble getting my head around this, after all, the word “Spider” is in it’s common name – apparently all spiders are arachnids, but not all arachnids are spiders. Camel spiders fall into the “Solifugae” order. Still, they look like spiders, and they’re scary, so they made the list!

The good news is, most of the spiders on this list will run the other way if they see you coming. Nevertheless, they are still terrifying! If you can think of any more species that should appear on this list, please post in the comments below!

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