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If the thought of spiders makes your skin crawl, you might find it reassuring that the chances of being bitten by a spider are smaller than you imagine, recent research shows.

Most so-called "spider bites" are not actually spider bites, according to researchers and several recent studies. Instead, "spider bites" are more likely to be bites or stings from other arthropods such as fleas, skin reactions to chemicals or infections, said Chris Buddle, an arachnologist at McGill University in Montreal.

By spending so much time in the jungle, I just realize that I am NOT the top of the food chain and the I may just be asking to be a traveling snack bar by running around in shorts all the time and usually barefoot. That is for the most part because I don't wear repellent, and that I like to see things close up. In any case, I have only ever been spider bitten twice in my entire life! So please don't panic. Face your fear when you see one, keep your distance but let them provide their service on earth as well.

When spider bites do happen, they tend to occur because the eight-legged beasts are surprised -- for example when a person reaches into a glove, shoe or nook that they are occupying at the moment, Buddle said.

Even then, however, the majority of spiders are not toxic to humans. Spiders prey on small invertebrates such as insects, so their venom is not geared toward large animals such as humans.

Many spiders aren't even capable of piercing human flesh. Buddle said he has observed spiders "moving their fangs back and forth against his skin," all to no avail.

Only about a dozen of the approximately 40,000 spider species worldwide can cause serious harm to the average healthy adult human. In North America, there are only two groups of spiders that are medically important: the widow group (which includes black widows) and the recluse group (brown recluses). These spiders do bite people, and if they live in your area, you should know what they look like, Buddle said. But still, records show bites from these spiders are very infrequent.

The vast majority of "spider bites" are caused by something else, research shows. One study Vetter cited found that of 182 Southern California patients seeking treatment for spider bites, only 3.8 percent had actual spider bites, while 85.7 percent had infections.

And a national study found that nearly 30 percent of people with skin lesions who said they had a spider bite actually had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. Other things that can cause symptoms that mimic spider bites include biting fleas or bedbugs, allergies, poison oak and poison ivy, besides various viral and bacterial infections, Vetter said.

In recent years, doctors have become better at identifying true spider bites, Vetter writes.

But spiders are still widely regarded as dangerous to humans, which is generally not the case, Buddle said.

Spiders are good at killing "nuisance insects," which may be more likely to bite humans than spiders, Buddle added. "In the vast majority of cases, spiders are our friends."

Fishing Spider

Fishing Spider

Brachypelma vagans

Normally, fishing spiders stand on the water with only their hind pair of legs anchored to the shore, but this one might be on land because it's detected my presence, or because the water is flowing very rapidly.

As their name suggests, fishing spiders hunt in water, taking other bugs which have fallen in, or even catching tadpoles or very small fish under the water. They detect the ripples made by their prey, and then go out on the surface of the water to capture it, using small hooks on their front legs. They usually attach a silk safety line to the shore to prevent themselves from being carried away by any current.

When they crawl underwater their bodies are surrounded by a thin, silvery pocket of air, which allows them to continue breathing. They're covered with hairs which repel water, so when they resurface they're completely dry.

Being in the open makes spiders very vulnerable to predators, so the hundred or so species of fishing spider found around the world are nocturnal hunters. They have hairs on their legs which are very sensitive to vibration, allowing the spiders to distinguish struggling insects or moving aquatic animals from waves generated by the wind or by the flowing water. They can even work out how far away their prey is, and in what direction.

Golden Orb Spider

Golden Orb

Nephila clavipes

Called banana spiders, golden silk orb-weavers, golden silk orb-weavers and probably more. There are more than 150 species and new ones are discovered every year. Prized for their silk in Austraila these are some interesting spiders. Click the image to learn more.


Spinybacked orbweaver Spider

Gasteracantha cancriformis
Females are 5 to 9 mm long and 10 to 13 mm wide. The six abdominal spine-like projections on the abdomen are characteristic. The carapace, legs and underside are black with white spots under the abdomen. Variations occur in the colour of the upperside of the abdomen with black spots on white to yellow ground colour and red spines or yellow instead of white. Spines are sometimes black. Like in many other spiders, males are much smaller (2 to 3 mm long) and longer than wide. They are similar to the females in colour but have a gray abdomen with white spots and the spines are reduced to four or five stubby projections.

Brown Recluse

Recluse Spiders

You probably have had more opportunity to come across these in the United States than here where it is not all that common, but this is a creature worthy of knowing about, and from personal experience, one to be knowledgable about.

The Chilean recluse spider is a venomous spider, Loxosceles laeta, of the family Sicariidae (formerly of the family Loxoscelidae). In Spanish, it (and other South American recluse spiders) is known as araa de rincn, or "spider of the corner"; in Portuguese, as Aranha-marrom or "brown spider". This spider is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the recluse spiders, and its bite is known to frequently result in severe systemic reactions, including death.

Click on the spider to learn even more about the Recluse spiders behavior and effects.

Red rumped tarantula


Brachypelma vagans

There are a couple varieties of tarantulas here, but as you may have seen, unless they feel they are being attacked, they are also kept as pets in many places. We have black and Mexican redrumps which are reported from Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Tarantulas can live up to 35 years and grow up to 11 inches. They hunt at night for insects, small lizards, small birds and rats. Their venom pre-digests their victims tissue so it's easier to eat. Last but not least the female has up to 2,000 eggs at the same time.

Tailless Whip Scorpion

Tailless Whip Scorpion

Amblypygids are also known as tailless whip scorpions. Even though they are related to scorpions, they are harmless! The name "amblypygid" means "blunt rump", a reference to a lack of the telson ("tail") carried by related species. The long "antennae" are actually the first pair of legs, which have become extremely thin, very long, and covered with sensory receptors. As they walk, they hold one of these long feelers in front of them, and one out to the side, in order to detect whatever is out there. If they touch a prey item with one of these feelers, they capture it with the large spiky pedipalps at the front of their body. Approximately 5 families, 17 genera and 136 species have been described. They are found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Some species are subterranean; many are nocturnal. During the day, they may hide under logs, bark, stones, or leaves. They prefer a humid environment.



Because of the size of this spider, it is commonly mistaken for a tarantula. Have no fear though, yes they have fangs that you can see, but these are very beneficial spiders as they feed on household pests. They are normally seen in fields and I will write more as I research them for you.