Spiders in Particular
Identification and Spider Questions
Identification is a bit more involved.
First, check to make sure you have a spider. Spiders have:
- eight legs (does not include the very small pair or leg-like pedipals on either side of the mouth)
- no tail
- no "scorpion-like" claws
- two body parts connected by a narrow waist
- the first pair of legs about the same size as the others (definitely not much longer)
If what you have does have eight legs, but not the other characteristics, go here to figure out which kind of arachnid you have (there are 11 living kinds!).
Next, compare your spider or other arachnid to pictures from books or the internet:
- Recommended Books
- Spiders and their Kin by Levi et al (St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1582381569), available in local bookstores and the internet for about $7 or less.
- Common Spiders of North America by Richard Bradley (Author) and Steve Buchanan (Illustrator), available from http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520274884
- Recommended Websites
If you are still having trouble, or can't find a matching picture, send a digital photo of it to Dr. Rovner at email@example.com. Only e-mails with attached sharp, close-up photos will yield a response. Words alone do not suffice.
Here is a pdf with examples of answered identification questions - Answering Arachno-Questions
There are only two poisonous spiders of any significance in the continental U.S., the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow. Tarantulas are relatively harmless though people can have an allergic reaction to their bite. Other spiders may also cause a slight allergic reaction at the site of a bite, with some redness and swelling.
Brown Recluse - Follow this link if you are you worried that a particular spider might be a brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) Privacy and Use of Questions: Please be aware that the AAS intends to keep a record of the questions that are asked and the answers that are provided. Persons who submit questions will not be identified, but please assume that if you ask a question, it may eventually become part of this Q& A collection.
Identifying and Misidentifying the Brown Recluse Spider. Dermatology Online, Rick Vetter. Abstract: The brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa, is often implicated as a cause of necrotic skin lesions.[1-3] Diagnoses are most commonly made by clinical appearance and infrequently is a spider seen, captured or identified at the time of the bite.[1, 2, 4-6] The brown recluse lives in a circumscribed area of the U.S. (the south central Midwest) with a few less common recluse species living in the more sparsely-populated southwest U.S. In these areas, where spider populations may be dense, recluse spiders may be a cause of significant morbidity. However, outside the natural range of these recluse species, the conviction that they are the etiological agents behind necrotic lesions of unknown origin is widespread, and most often erroneous. In some states such as California, unsubstantiated reports concerning recluse spider bites have taken on the status of "urban legend" leading to overdiagnosis and, therefore, inappropriate treatment.
Black Widow - Wikipedia entry on Black Widow Spiders
Tarantulas - Wikipedia entry on Tarantulas