The state of Georgia is home to a number of venomous arthropods including caterpillars, scorpions, bees, wasps, yellowjackets, hornets, centipedes, and of course, spiders. Unlike airborne stinging insects, like bees and wasp species, which technically include both yellowjackets and hornets, spiders are not generally considered a medical threat to humans. Public health officials, doctors, entomologists and pest control professionals generally agree that only two spider species pose a significant medical threat to humans in the US due to the toxicity of their venom. Many people either know, or can guess that these two species include the black widow and the brown recluse spider, but it should be noted that black widows comprise a few different species. Unfortunately, Georgia is one of less than a dozen US states where both the black widow and the brown recluse can be found.
Black widows are abundant in the state, and while they may appear within homes on occasion, they generally prefer outdoor environments. Brown recluse spiders are considered relatively rare in Georgia, but two years ago, a home in Paulding County saw an infestation consisting of at least 30 brown recluse spiders. While black widows, and other widow spider species, do not generally pose a threat to humans within indoor spaces, the spiders can maintain an abundant presence around homes in Georgia, particularly near a home’s foundation and beneath porches.
Another widow spider species, the brown widow, can be found in Georgia. This species has also been responsible for medically significant bite incidents, but their venom is not as toxic as black widow venom. Like the black widow, the brown widow is often spotted around homes and beneath porches. In fact, one Georgia resident found a brown widow and its web beneath the front porch of his home, but what made this particular brown widow specimen unique was the fact that it had captured a snake within its web. Most reports involving spiders preying and feeding upon snakes have been largely dismissed as old wives’ tales, but this particular incident has been confirmed as true by pest control professionals. The snake species that was found dead within the female brown widow’s web is commonly known as a tiny scarlet snake, and as its name suggests, this species is relatively small. Nevertheless, this particular sighting proves how dangerous widow spider species can be, especially when they are found around or within homes.
Have you ever heard of any case involving a mammalian species being preyed upon by a spider species?