There does exist a small minority of people who consider tarantulas to be ideal pets, but most people do not consider arachnids of any sort to be approachable. Although spiders may appear threatening, it is now generally accepted that the vast majority of the world’s nearly 40,000 spider species are largely harmless to humans. Of the 3,000 spider species that have been documented in North America, only two are commonly cited by experts as being potentially dangerous to humans on account of their venomous bites. These two species are commonly known as black widows and brown recluses, and luckily for residents of Maine, neither one of these two species dwell within the state. That being said, one spider species that is closely related to the highly venomous black widow, Parasteatoda tepidariorum, is abundant within households in Maine. This particular species is aptly known as the “American house spider”, and it is one of the most commonly encountered spider species in the state, both indoors and outdoors. Unfortunately, the American house spider, much like its widow relative, can inflict some extremely painful and potentially dangerous bites to humans.

While the American house spider has been documented within 25 eastern US states, this species is able to survive the relatively long winters in Maine due to its habit of dwelling indoors all year round. In fact, residents of the state are likely to find a specimen, or several, simply by inspecting the dark corners of their floors and ceilings, but these spiders are rarely noticed by humans due to their habit of remaining still for long periods of time. American house spiders are not considered aggressive towards humans, but they will not hesitate to bite if they are mishandled or feel threatened. While bites from the American house spider are not as threatening as bites from their black widow relatives, several medically significant American house spider envenomation cases have been documented. There exists at least one documented case of a severe allergic reaction that resulted from a bite from this species, and many non-allergic individuals have developed unpleasant localized wound and systemic symptoms in response to the American house spider’s bite. At the very least, this species’ neurotoxic venom will cause extreme pain that lasts for an average of 16 hours following a bite.

Have you ever sustained a sting from a small-sized spider that caused a significant degree of physical pain?