Actual Size: ¼” to 1”
Characteristics: Black or dark brown; orange or yellow hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen.
Habitat: Builds webs in secluded, protected sites such as empty containers, buckets, entryway corners, storage closets, and garages.
Brown widow spiders, also known as cobweb spiders because of their irregular webs, are common in Georgia. The brown widow originally entered the U.S. in Florida and spread its range in the 1990s. The brown widow resembles the black widow, however, the hourglass of the brown widow is yellowish-orange or reddish-orange instead of bright red as in the black widow. Males do not bite, however, the female brown widow is a venomous spider that injects a neurotoxic venom when it bites its prey.
The brown widow builds its web in secluded, protected sites around homes and in woody vegetation with branches. Some typical sites selected by brown widows for web building are empty containers such as buckets and nursery pots, mailboxes, entryway corners, under eaves, storage closets and garages, and on the undersides of outdoor furniture and wrought iron railings. They choose places that are more exposed than sites chosen by black widows and therefore, appear to be at higher risk for interactions with humans regarding the potential to be bitten.
The bite of a brown widow spider is minor in comparison to that of a black widow and does not cause the same symptoms as a black widow bite. Brown widow spider venom is twice as potent as black widow venom, however, it is believed the brown widow does not inject the same amount of neurotoxin. This species is timid and avoids human interaction. In fact, males and immature brown widow spiders do not bite at all. While brown widow spider bites are typically not medically threatening, it is important for sensitive individuals to seek medical attention in the event of severe pain and swelling. If you are dealing with a brown widow spider problem in your home, contact your local spider exterminators for help.