Rhonwyn Newson

Weekend editor of the Herald Online and writer of The Herald List

Ten of the world's most dangerous spiders

Black Widow Spider. Photo / Thinkstock
Black Widow Spider. Photo / Thinkstock

Arachnophobic? Look away now!

A new study published in PLOS One shows that a specific species of orb-weaver spider living in urban Sydney is getting bigger and reproducing more than its rural cousins. The authors believe this is a good sign because these types of spiders are responsible for making sure insect populations don't get out of hand, they're a vital food source for birds, and their ability to thrive in cities shows that urban animals are more resilient than we think.

Read: Aussie city spiders getting bigger (but it's OK)

Still, if you're afraid of spiders, maybe you don't really care about their resilience.

Here's a look at 10 of the most dangerous spiders from around the world:

10 Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti

Where: Australia and New Zealand. It has also been seen in some parts of Southeast Asia.

These little guys are homebodies, choosing to stay near to their webs. They mostly bite when people come into direct contact with the webs.

Anti-venom for Redback bites was introduced in the 1950s, and there have been no deaths recorded since then. Around 250 people receive the anti-venom each year. In most cases, the bites don't have much effect. However, symptoms such as fast heartbeat, headache and vomiting can occur.

9 Hobo Spider, Tegenaria agrestis

Where: Europe and North America

These brown, hairy-legged spiders have a nasty necrotic bite that causes a severe headache and results in a wound that takes a long time to heal.

8 Sydney Funnel-Web Spider, Atrax robustus

Where: Within a 160-kilometre radius of Sydney, Australia. Other species of funnel-web spiders are found throughout Australia.

This iconic spider has caused more than a dozen recorded deaths however, not since the introduction of anti-venom in 1981. They like damp soil and can often be found in compost heaps and underneath houses.

7 Six-Eyed Sand Spider, Sicarius hahni

Where: South Africa

As the name suggests, this spider's camouflage allows it to live in the arid sandy regions of South Africa. It has hair-like structures that trap sand, adding to its disguise.
No deaths have been recorded from this spider's bites, but its venom can kill animals such as rabbit and mice in hours.

6 Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus

Where: Southern United States

Despite this spider's sister - the Black Widow - having a bad reputation, the Brown Widow's venom is twice as potent. However, it doesn't inject as much venom when it attacks. This spider has been found in letterboxes, under outdoor furniture and in caves.

5 Brown Recluse, Loxosceles reclusa

Where: Southern and Central United States

This spider is also known as a fiddleback or violin spider. It contains a unique protein that causes dark lesions and inflammation to develop at the bite site. Treatment is a skin graft by a plastic surgeon. While an individual may not feel the bite, pain will develop over a few hours. In rare cases, a bite can result in kidney failure, seizures or death.

4 Goliath Birdeater Tarantula, Theraphosa blondi

Where: South America

Despite its name, this spider - like other tarantulas - mainly eats insects. However, it will feed on small rodents, frogs and lizards if the opportunity presents.
Scary in appearance, but the venom is relatively harmless and its effects are comparable to those of a wasp's sting.

3 Mouse spider, Missulena

Where: Australia

A bite from this spider may produce serious symptoms similar to those produced by a funnel-web's bite. They prey mainly on insects but have been known to consume other small animals.

2 Black Widow, Latrodectus mactans

Where: United States

The female black widow injects a poison 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's. It causes pain throughout the body, followed by chills, vomiting, breathing difficulty, delirium, spasms and partial paralysis. Around 5% of black widow attacks are fatal.

1 Brazilian Wandering Spider, Phoneutria bahiensis

Where: South America

Rather than maintaining a web, these spiders wander the jungle floor at night, and hide inside termite mounds or in banana plants during the day. They are also called banana spiders.

Its venom has been recorded as the most neurotoxic of any spider in the world.

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