3 Venomous (Poisonous) Spiders Found in Washington (2024)

Below, you will learn about three types of poisonous spiders found in Washington that are DANGEROUS to people.

venomous spiders in Washington

Fortunately, the species below only bite when disturbed or provoked. It’s important to remember that spiders would rather run away from you than bite. If you encounter one of the spiders listed below, please LEAVE THEM ALONE!

Lastly, I think it’s interesting to know that, technically, almost ALL spiders are venomous. This is because they have poison glands that release venom to help subdue their prey, typically small insects. Luckily, most species’ venom does not affect humans.

For today’s post, I found the types of spiders that are known to be very dangerous to people when they do bite, or at least “medically significant.”

Venomous Spiders in Washington:

#1. Black Widow

venomous spiders in Washington

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Females are 6 to 19 mm long—shiny black with a distinctive red hourglass-shaped mark. A row of red spots is sometimes visible above.
  • Males are half the size of females.
  • Bristles on their hind legs, which they use to cover their prey with silk once it has been trapped.

Black Widows are the most venomous spiders in Washington!

In addition, they are probably the most popular and recognizable spiders in the world. Almost everyone can recognize the red-shaped hourglass mark that appears on the females.

But even though they have highly toxic venom, 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake, they are not aggressive. Black Widows only bite when in danger or if their web is disturbed. They RARELY bite humans.

But, if you are one of the few unlucky people who are bitten, you should go to the hospital immediately. The venom is dangerous, as it affects your nervous system.

Deaths to healthy adults are VERY rare, but the neurotoxic venom can be fatal to small children if untreated.

Only adult females have chelicerae (mouthparts) long enough to deliver venom, as males are too small to pierce our skin.

black widow northern

The best places to look for these venomous spiders in Washington include overhanging ledges, woodpiles, under benches or stones, near entrances to abandoned rodent burrows, or around outbuildings. Inside your home, they can be found in dimly lit locations, such as dark corners, closets, or other cluttered areas. They don’t like moisture and prefer dry areas.

Black Widows have a bizarre mating ritual. It begins with the male coming to the female’s web and destroying it. This reduces the female’s pheromones and makes the web less attractive to other males.

The females do not seem to mind the destruction of their property, and it actually seems to make them more receptive to the male. Even so, sometimes, the female kills and eats the male after mating. This gruesome behavior is what gave these poisonous spiders their name.

#2. Black-Footed Yellow Sac Spider

  • Cheiracanthium inclusum

venomous spiders in Washington

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Pale yellow-beige color with dark brown markings on its palps, jaws, and the ends of its feet.
  • An orange-brown stripe often runs down the top center of its abdomen.
  • Also known as the American Yellow Sac Spider. As you can see, it gets its name from its appearance.

Yellow Sac Spiders are venomous and capable of biting humans.

Their bite begins with a bit of pain followed by itching and swelling. Symptoms from the bite typically are gone within 7-10 days. On the bright side, Yellow Sac Spiders rarely bite!

The severity of one of their bites is not nearly as bad as a Black Widow. A study of twenty confirmed Yellow Sac Spider bites found that none resulted in necrosis (decaying of tissue due to cells dying). Instead, it seems like most bites just caused swelling and localized pain.

These venomous spiders are most often found in Washington on the foliage of trees and shrubs. But it’s not out of the question to find one in your house or other manufactured structures. Honestly, it’s pretty uncommon to actually see a Yellow Sac Spider unless you’re actively searching for one. The reason is that they are nocturnal and only come out at night to feed and mate.

Lastly, in 2011, Black-footed Yellow Sac Spiders caused quite a big problem for Mazda. The automobile company had to recall 65,000 Mazda 6 vehicles after discovering that webs from this species were clogging fuel system ventilation tubes. It seems that the spiders were attracted to the smell of gasoline, but it’s unclear why ONLY this particular model was affected!

#3. Hobo Spider

  • Eratigena agrestis, formerly Tegenaria agrestis

venomous spiders in Washington

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Both sexes are between 7-14 mm.
  • Light brown or tan in color with two darker bands extending back.
  • There is usually a thin dark line down the center of the head region.
  • Correctly identifying this venomous spider is difficult because individuals vary greatly in appearance.

The Hobo Spider got its name because it’s often found along railroad tracks. It is also called the “aggressive house spider,” but this name is misleading as it does not naturally live indoors. In addition, it’s not aggressive unless catching its prey or when trapped against a person’s skin.

Hobo Spider Range Map

Hobo Spider range map

There is little evidence that Hobo Spiders are actually dangerous.

So why is it on this list?

Well, initially, the Center for Disease Control reported spider bite case studies in the 1990s, claiming that the Hobo Spider caused isolated cases of necrosis in people. Because of these studies, it got a reputation for being venomous. But since then, there has been little evidence that the Hobo Spider is dangerous. In fact, as of 2017, the CDC no longer lists the Hobo Spider as a venomous species in Washington.

You can find Hobo Spider webs by entrances, under rocks, or among the debris. But they are also found in many other places close to the ground with holes and cracks, such as rock retaining walls, piles of debris, and building foundations. In addition, adult males sometimes wander into houses.

*WARNING – If you are bitten in Washington and think the spider is venomous, please go to the hospital!

If you have an allergic reaction, do not use this article to try to identify the spider. If possible, it is beneficial to try to capture the spider that has bitten you so they can determine the correct treatment.

Did you know that spiders are considered venomous, NOT poisonous?

There’s a common misconception between poisonous and venomous; one is ingested, and the other is injected. So, for example, If you eat something that makes you sick, it is considered “poisonous.” But if an animal, like a spider, delivers its toxins when it bites, then it’s considered “venomous.”

Check out these other guides to animals found in Washington!

Which of these venomous spiders have you seen in Washington?

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  1. I was bitten by a Hobbo spider five years ago in Brewster that was on a log that floated down the river. I got a serious staff infection from the bite on my leg that got into my sweat glands under my arm That got pretty serious. So their bite venom might not be dangerous but the staff infection they can give you certainly is.

  2. Recently bitten several times on my leg by either a large wolf spider or a small yellow sac spider…was able to trap several of each type inside my home in the days following when I was bitten! I took the trapped spider specimens to the hospital that treated my spider bite wounds but they were unable to determine which species of spider was the one that bit me. The bites started out as small itchy spots, similar to mosquito bites, but quickly turned into quarter-sized ulcerated lesions. All are healing now that I am on an antibiotic regimen…but how do I rid my house of these nefarious insects? Please note that I have several pets, one that is a very antisocial pitbull, so clearing the entire house in order to fumigate is an almost insurmountable task! Is there any other way to get rid of this spider infestation? I am seeing/slaughtering more than 5-10 spiders every day now, but there weren’t any in my home as of a month ago! What could be causing these spiders to invade my home?

    1. Insects are spider prey. Maely bugs, other spiders, flies, etc. And like Tarantulas they could be mating in the Fall or looking for a winter haven. Peppermint essential oil mixed into water helps with insects, including Yellow Jackets. 5 to 10 drops oil in 3 oz. of water in a hand-size sprayer bottle. Spritz around inside and outside doors and screen doors daily, from spring until too cold and no good, warm sun in late fall. Spiders inside, Regular Scent Pine Sol with 20% water mixed in kills spiders. Keep pets away from moistened areas and wipe away residue after dry. Spray webs, no matter the size or thickness, get the spray into the central spot of the web. Waiting until the spiders are in their webs would allow catching and killing them, rather than wondering about and looking for them. Peppermint spray kills bugs but not sure about all spiders. Sweep down egg sacs around home, high and low, kill them before tossing. Check undisturbed areas, like greenhouses, pumphouses, roof eaves, bushes, and treat/clean as necessary.

  3. Saw a yellow sac spider dropping down from a tree in Redmond, Wa! It was quite interesting to watch, it is definitely big and yellow

  4. One hundred percent just killed a brown recluse in Vancouver washington, I see a new hobo spider in the house about everyday, it’s annoying but I just escort them out unless they prove to be difficult (One refused to leave after I through it out 5 times) anyways, this last one was straight up a violin head Brown recluse. It had to die immediately.

  5. Yellow Sac Spider, 10 miles west of Port Angeles, crawling aggressively over the grass. Definitely caught my eye in broad daylight. Wasn’t sure how to attack photo though.