Wolf spiders are very large, hairy spiders that are usually patterned with black, gray, and brown. They are active hunters that patrol the ground for insects and other spiders. They tend to live in high masses in leaf litter and grassy areas. Wolf spiders are notorious for building small burrows so that they can defend a territory. Although they often wander into homes and buildings, they are not normally pests. Wolf spiders have the potential to bite, but they are not considered dangerous what-so-ever and are commonly referred to as a harmless spider. Most wolf spiders can live for several years, shedding their skin as they grow. Females are capable of laying dozens of eggs at one time. The eggs are wrapped in a large ball of webbing and carried by the female until its time for them to hatch. Their life cycle is typically 2-4 weeks or until the young are able to hunt on their own.
The Brown recluse spider’s most defining characteristic is its dark violin-shaped marking directly behind the eyes. This spider is equipped with three sets of eyes whereas most other spiders have four. The Brown recluse is a medium-sized spider that is typically between ¼ – ½ inch in length. They are commonly found in old boxes, houses, furniture, and other types of buildings and are also well traveled.
Brown recluse spiders are generally pretty shy and only bite when disturbed. Persons bitten usually do not feel any pain for about two hours, then a blister forms around the bite, and the pain becomes intense. The healing from a brown recluse is very slow and can sometimes take 6 – 8 weeks. Any persons suspecting a bite from this spider should consult a physician immediately.
SOUTHERN BLACK WIDOW
The southern black widow spider is commonly found in garages, around wood piles, or under houses hanging upside down in their strong webs. These spiders are typically about 1½ inches in length and are glossy, jet black in color with a red hour glass marking on their underside. They are widely spread over the southeast and southwest areas of the United States. Southern black widows are poisonous and can be very dangerous. The bite usually only feels like the prick of a needle and the initial pain disappears pretty quickly. However, muscle cramps in the shoulders, thighs, and back can appear as early as 15 minutes after the bite. In more severe cases, there may also be difficulty in breathing, nausea, or pain in the abdomen.
There are two species of jumping spiders in Florida, the gray wall jumper and the pantropical jumper. They are both associated with buildings or structures where they can be numerous around lights and catching the insects attracted to the lights. Both of these spiders are medium to large in size, ranging from 8-12mm in length. Jumping spiders are found in the southeast from Texas to Florida and are prevalent year-round. The mating and reproduction begins in the fall and continues until spring. Females create a flattened white egg sack in a crevice where they stay and guard 25-40 eggs. The eggs will hatch out in approximately three weeks. Many people consider jumping spiders beneficial because of their control of flies, mosquitoes, and other pests.
SPINY ORB WEAVER
The Spiny orb weaver is one of the most colorful spiders in Florida. This spider is commonly referred to as a “crab spider” due to its combination of color, shape, and size. The females are typically about 6-8mm in length and 10-12 mm wide while the males are quite smaller at 2-4mm in length and being slightly longer than the width. They are easy to identify by the 6 reddish orange projections on top of the abdomen and the remainder of the body being white with black spots. Spiny orb weavers have a virtually year-round life cycle, but are most common in October and November. They are capable of producing up to 15 egg masses, each potentially containing between 100 – 250 eggs. The most common places where these spiders can be found are around houses, nurseries, trees and shrubs, and inside screened enclosures. Bites from spiny orb weavers are not known to cause serious effects to humans.