There are 900 species of spiders in Alabama, but only two can hurt people. These two -- recluse spiders and widow spiders -- are considered to be poisonous to humans. Other spiders are large, hairy and scary looking, but their bites are about as harmful as a bee sting. People who are allergic to spider venom, however, may still have a severe reaction to a spider bite.
Brown recluse spiders are also called fiddlebacks because of the fiddle-shaped pattern on their head region. They are golden brown and are 1/4 to 3/4-inches long. The spider has long, crab-like legs and it spins webs under bark, stones and in secluded areas. Brown recluse spiders have six pairs of eyes and a poisonous venom. People who are bitten by this spider may experience a fever, chills, nausea, weakness and joint pain within 24-to-26 hours. Those bitten by a brown recluse spider should contact a physician immediately.
The Banana spider, which is also called the Brazilian Wandering spider, hides in bananas shipped to the United States. These spiders are aggressive, venomous and will attack when threatened. Although some dispute that the venom could actually kill a human, others disagree and the spider may be one of the most toxic spiders in the world. The bites are extremely painful due to the high levels of serotonin contained in the venom.
Crab spiders are named for their appearance and crab-like movements. They have two large front legs and move using their rear legs. Crab spiders are capable of changing colors and camouflage themselves in order to catch prey. Although venom from a crab spider can cause an insect to become immobilized, it does not affect humans unless an individual has an allergic reaction. The spider produces eggs a few weeks after mating and most crab spiders produce one generation each year. The life span of the crab spider is generally one year.
Black widow spiders are found around piles of wood, under leaves and in unused construction materials. They are most common in southern areas of the United States. The female spider rarely leaves the web and lies in wait for its prey. Once it catches its prey, it covers a victim in its silk and kills it with venom, sucking fluid from the prey's body until cutting it loose and allowing it to drop to the ground. After mating, a female black widow will sometimes eat the male spider. Its venom is poisonous to humans and may cause an individual who has been bitten to experience headaches, profound perspiration, high-blood pressure and nausea.