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Range of the Brown Widow Spider

Unlike the Black Widow, which lives across the entire United States, the Brown Widow is a southern species. The brown is far more common in the south than the black. I live in Orlando, and Brown Widows are all over the place! They live in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and eastern Texas, as well as the edges of some other states.

Some of my other spider pages:
Brown Widow Spider - information and photos.
Spider Identification Guide - with photos of USA dangerous species.
How to Treat a Spider Bite
How To Get Rid of Spiders
Hobo Spider Range - with USA map photograph
Brown Recluse Range - with USA map photograph

Brown widow spider - Black widows, though the most well-known of all venomous spiders, are not the only arachnids in the widow family. The brown widow spider can be found in much of the southern United States as well as a few other countries. This spider is brown with a yellow or orange hourglass shape on the underside of its abdomen. It is thought to be as venomous as the black widow, but the black widow is capable of delivering a larger dose of venom to its victim. Brown widow venom tends to stay near the bite wound. Both widow spiders deliver neurotoxic venom, a substance that will affect the way neurons communicate within the body, eventually shutting down life-support functions like heartbeat and respiration. Identifying and locating brown widows can be done by finding their characteristic eggs sacks which look like small balls covered in spikes. The brown widow is rarely far from her eggs. The brown widow is often confused with the black widow because of the spider’s tendency to darken in color over time. The hourglass should still remain yellow or orange, but the shade of orange can easily be mistaken for a light red. Regardless, a dark spider with an hourglass should be avoided.

Click here for my Florida spider photos.

Hello, I found your website while searching for info about what species of spider bit me (as I am sure many people do haha). ;) I have been driving myself crazy trying to identify it as I noticed a little tiny spider had bit my foot and it was very sore and itchy right away, so I was worried about what it could be and initially thought it was a brown recluse. When I checked the geographic range, however, it showed that they do not live in Florida and I discovered your page about brown widow spiders. I am originally from New Jersey and moved to Florida about 5 years ago, so I was familiar with black widows, but had never heard of a brown widow. When the spider bit me I kicked my foot in reaction and was able to find it a few feet away, walking in circles. This happened inside so I watched it on the tile floor for a bit before trying to capture it, and I did not want to squish it as I wanted to be able to identify it.

I couldn't really figure out a way to capture it as I did not have a plastic container or anything, and found some thick clear tape and decided that I could stick it to the tape. Of course this killed it, I know most people kill every spider they see but I do try to prevent from killing them as I know spiders are good to have around. (Especially living in Florida, I love when an orb weaver decides to make a web on the porch as they prevent tons of mosquitoes and flies from getting in the house.)

Anyway, I am kind of rambling on, but I did have some questions/observations that I am not sure if you could answer/discuss. You said that the brown widow attempted to hide and avoid humans, though this one was completely unprovoked. I was just sitting down with my feet on the ground when I felt the bite. I wonder what would cause this one to show a different behavior than the one you captured. I believe that most spiders do not seek humans to bite and will normally choose to run away and will just use biting as a defense mechanism. From what I read about widow spiders, that is their nature to only bite if disturbed or trapped. Maybe I somehow scared it, though I am not sure what I might have done that would cause it to bite.

Also, this one is a baby. It was very hard to find any spider that even resembled it as it is so small. I can not see any markings like the tell-tale hourglass or any red or orange spots on the abdomen. It does seem to have the bands beginning to show on the legs though. The description of the web they make also matches ones that I have seen on the outside of the house, although they appear old and abandoned and I have not seen any spiders in or around them.

I was also wondering if you think a nest might be in the area since this one seems so young. I have not seen any other spiders in the home recently, though I will randomly find abandoned webs. This spider was in an area where it is close enough to the door to have found a way in which I am hoping is the case. It is very likely that I have misidentified it, though after searching the internet the closest resemblance I have found to this spider is the brown widow. If you believe it to be something else I would love to know your opinion, though it may be hard with the photos I were able to take as I could not get any closer to it without them becoming blurry. It has been a few hours and I do not seem to be showing any further symptoms other than the bite area being itchy and sore.

I know you probably get tons of emails from people asking you to help them identify a spider, so any input would be greatly appreciated if you have the time. Below are the photos I took, I do still have the spider if you would like me to attempt to get a different angle though. Thank you, Amy

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