10 Most Dangerous Spiders in the World

Arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) affects around 5% of the population including celebrities as diverse as Justin Timberlake and JK Rowling. Whilst both statistically and factually there is very little to fear from most spiders these little eight-legged critters do seem to have reserved a special place in the human psyche.

It is true that all spiders, by their definition, posses a pair of fangs through which they inject venom. And it probably doesn’t help their cause that they feed by turning their prey’s insides to liquid and then sucking it up.

However, it is also the case that only a tiny fraction of the more than 40,000 species of spider pose any real danger to humans. For starters most are too small to be able to puncture the skin and the vast majority are not in the least aggressive. Even those spiders that can bite rarely cause injuries worse than a mosquito bite. It is estimated that during the whole 20th century spiders were responsible for in the region of only 100 deaths globally.

That said, we are now going to look at those spiders that are considered dangerous to humans and have proven capable of inflicting significant injury. If you have seen our list of the deadliest Australian spiders you will be familiar with several of these already although the deadliest spider of them all is not from Australia at all.

10. Hobo Spider (Tegenaria agrestis)

Hobo spider (Tegenaria agrestis)

Hobo spider (Tegenaria agrestis) Photo: © tup wanders / License

The actual danger the hobo spider presents to humans is somewhat debatable. It has been proven to deliver quite serious bites to lab animals and there are many alleged cases of bites from these spiders causing necrosis, similar, but less severe than that observed in brown recluse bites. These bites cause an open wound whihc may take many weeks to heal.

There are two reasons the hobo spider has made it onto this list; firstly it is aggressive and fairly common, which increases the chance of an actual bite occurring. In fact the hobo spider is sometimes referred to as the ‘aggressive house spider’, although this could stem from a misinterpretation of its Latin name T. agrestis.
The other reason I’ve included this spider on the list is just because it is quite interesting that this spider only recently arrived in North America. Previously it was common throughout Europe and went practically unnoticed. Where it differs is that in Europe the hobo spider is not found in houses – other bigger, meaner house spiders keep it out!

9. Camel Spider (Solifugae)

Camel spider

Camel spider (Solifugae) Photo: Silver1 / License

The camel spider really is the stuff of nightmares. The biggest is the Egyptian giant solpugid with a body reaching up to six inches (15cm) in length and powerful jaws making up about a quarter of that this would be one of the biggest, scariest looking spiders in the world, except for one thing – it isn’t a spider, or a camel for that matter. Camel spiders are in fact a type of arachnid known as solifuges, which literally translates as ‘flee from the sun’. Also known as wind scorpions and sun spiders, solifuges are found in deserts throughout the world.

So why is the camel spider in the list at all? Well basically just because they look so fierce and grow so big. They are also lightning fast and capable of running at speeds of up to 10 mph (16 kph). Solifuges can inflict a painful bite but they are not venomous. So those stories about them crawling under camels, disemboweling camels and eating the insides might just be a little bit of an exaggeration!

 8. Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium)

Yellow Sac Spider

Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium) Photo: ©Micha L. Rieser / License

Small and innocuous in appearance  but capable of delivering quite a nasty bite, the yellow sac spider is one to avoid. The spiders of the Cheiracanthium family are usually between 5 and 10mm (1/4 to 3/8 ins) long and are pale yellow or green in colour. They are fairly widespread occurring from Australia to Canada and many places in between.

The venom of the yellow sac spider is a cytotoxin, which means it breaks down cells, possibly causing necrosis. Bites are characterized by an initial stinging pain followed by redness and swelling which can develop into a blister or sore.  The bite is often compared to that of the brown recluse, although it is less severe and any resulting wound is likely to heal much faster. Some experts reckon that many recorded brown recluse bites are in fact sac spider bites and that these spiders are responsible for more bites than any other species.

7. Fringed Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria)

Fringed ornamental tarantula

Fringed ornamental tarantula (Poecilotheria) Photo: © Ameng Wu

Tarantulas – the archetypal big hairy spiders that have been the terror of arachnophobes since time began. The name comes from a Spanish dance, which apparently is how people jumped around when bitten by one of these critters. Unlike the smaller spiders on this list tarantulas are mygalomorphs, which means their twin fangs point downwards and have to be stabbed into the prey, rather than the pincer like action of most smaller species.

But everybody knows that despite their terrifying demeanor, tarantula bites aren’t so bad, right? Well it may be true that most tarantula bites are no worse than a bee sting, however the Poecilotheria genus of spiders are renown for having a particularly nasty bite, none more so than Poecilotheria ornata – the fringed ornamental tarantula. The bite from one of these is reported to have caused excruciating pain, and extreme muscle cramping in some cases. One bite victim ended up in the emergency room after experiencing severe spasm and chest pains.
So whilst there have been no confirmed fatalities from this tarantula it certainly carries a potent venom and injects it by the bucket load.

6. Mouse Spider (Missulena)

Mouse spider

Photo: Bruiser15 License

At this point we encounter our first Australian spider and the bites become that bit more medically significant. There are around 12 species of mouse spider in Australia and there name comes from their soft furry abdomens and not from the fact they might eat mice, although I’m sure they would. Armed with huge fangs and a venom that is similar to that of the deadly Sydney funnel-web spider this spider is every bit as dangerous as it looks.

Whilst the mouse spider is potentially dangerous it is far less aggressive than the Sydney funnel-web plus it often gives ‘dry bites’, i.e. without venom. Therefore it appears lower on this list than its meaner cousin.

  • Bellarachnid

    The tarantula pictured in #7 is a Heteroscodra maculata not a Poecilotheria ornata (Fringed ornamental).

    • surfgatinho

      Well spotted! I couldn’t find a photo of Poecilotheria that I could use and thought I’d get away with it….

      • Gordon Hamilton

        Also Camel Spider and P.Ornata are not true spiders … and isnt P.Regalis more venomous ???

        • surfgatinho

          The article does say the camel spider isn’t a true spider. Poecilotheria on the other hand are definitely spiders.

          Not sure whether P. regalis is more venomous. From what I can gather both have “medically significant” bites, with the P. ornata being bigger and more aggressive.

          • Gordon Hamilton

            Tarantulas are not true spiders, ie: Pokies or Poecilotheria, P.Ornata are Tarantulas. I always understood it to be P.Regalis has the most potent bite, but maybe i am biased as i have 12 of them.

          • surfgatinho

            You may well be right about which is most venomous, but tarantulas are definitely spiders. Check out Wikipedia for starters:
            “Tarantulas comprise a group of large and often hairy arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders”.

            They differ from many other species of spider in that they are mygalomorphs meaning their fangs point down as opposed to operating like pincers, but they are definitely spiders…

          • Gordon Hamilton

            Sorry but they are Not, true spiders… They date from the time of the Dinosaurs, they can live up to 30 years, and have a number of differences from their more modern counterpart. I have been breeding them for 20+ years, but don’t take my word for it… There is plenty of information on Genus of Species

            QUOTE “” A tarantula is a large spider in the infraorder Mygalomorphae. (In fact, the French word for tarantula is mygale).
            The mygalomorphs differ from the araneomorphs, the so-called “true”
            spiders, in a number of ways. Chiefly, their fangs point down, whereas
            the fangs of true spiders join in a pincer-like arrangement. Some
            mygalomorphs are small or even tiny, but you’d never apply the word
            “tarantula” to one that wasn’t big and robust. “”

            This is from The British Tarantula Society, we site (pardon the pun)
            Very informative and worth reading…

          • Jokes

            Arguing on the internet is like the special Olympics. Even if you win, you’re still retarded.

          • Faber

            As far as I know (I am a biologist) the orders in which arachinds are divided are: “spiders”, “scorpions”, solifugae (camel spiders), amblypigids, uropygids, pseudoscorpions, acari (mitest and ticks) and maybe others. The scientific community puts tarantulas in the same order as spiders, so they ARE spiders, while ticks and scorpions and camel spiders are not. After all, taxonomy is just an agreement between scientists, since taxa (except fo the species) are man made categories and there would be hundred thousands of different ways to classify living beings according to their morphology, gene homology etc. (some more close their actual phylogenetical relationships, some less…), so it is quite pointless to discuss too much about taxonomy. Even if tarantulas are morphologically different from other spiders (the fangs etc.), they must be so genetically close to them that it is possible to assume that they both originated from a common ancestor, forming a so-called monophyletic group (all the descendents from a common ancestor). Anyway, as I said, taxonomy is man made, just accept what the scientific community has agreed, there is no reason to argue about something that is not real U.U

          • Grant Bogner

            Correct. Tarantulas are not “true spiders,” but they are still spiders. True spiders are a branch of spiders.

  • ColonelChair

    While the picture of the mouse spider you have is correct to some extent, I believe you might mean this one: http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/images/1918/dang_20_big.jpg

    • BrooklynsFinest718

      I believe that one is a female Mouse Spider which is twice as big and has more venom of-course, while the males are red-headed. But I also read that some females are red-headed too and bit bigger than the males. The venom from both has the same effects.

      • sparksflyswifty

        most males in spider species are smaller than the females. It is not an uncommon thing!

    • sparksflyswifty

      There are several sub species of mouse spiders and all are potentially deadly to humans. Recent studies have tended to suspect that most of the people who were suspected of being bitted by funnel web spiders, were actually bitten by mouse spiders. Some research is showing that their toxin is just as deadly as the more famous funnel webs too.

  • Michael Garde

    uumm how can the Yellow Sac Spider (found in australia) make the worlds most dangerous list but not make the Australias most dangerous list? (i seen one list after the other) and the sydney funnel web should be number 1

    • surfgatinho

      The article wouldn’t have been particularly interesting if it was just a repeat of the Australia’s most dangerous spiders so I thought I’d mix it up a bit.
      Not sure I agree with you on Sydney funnel web being #1 though. Wandering spider is much more venomous, equally aggressive and more likely to come into contact with humans.

    • sparksflyswifty

      No, the Brasilian Wandering spider’s toxin is fractionally more dangerous than the various Australian funnel webs species. There isn’t much in it though, it’s pretty damn close and not “much more venomous” as surfgatinho has suggested. Both spiders are very aggressive, and both can and do wander. In both cases, it’s the males that wander, the females stay underground all their lives. The males are smaller than the females, but usually have stronger toxins. The funnel web is particularly nasty because it will bite multiple times and generally injects the full dose of venom, unlike most other spider species. It also has very strong jaws and the puncture wounds from the bite can be very painful.

      The Redback spider is particularly docile in comparison, and in a lot of instances, doesn’t inject venom on biting, or only a small dose.

      A word on necrosis – recent research has shown that tissue necrosis from hobo spider/sac spider/wolf spider is due to the victim being allergic to the venom. Healthy persons who aren’t allergic to the toxin don’t suffer necrosis.

      There’s a lot of misnomers about spiders, and a lot of that is to do with fear of them. Know thy enemy! (well spiders aren’t our enemies, but the saying was apt to be used in the context!).

  • Blake

    While I can’t say anything about the venom of the hobo spider, they are definitely not aggressive. A lot of the hobo spider’s bad reputation is due to media and exterminators.

    • KittyFox

      I agree because when my sister was young she held a young hobo spider in her hands and it didn’t bite her.

  • Joel W

    I wonder if you can synthesize and modify the venom from the Brazilian Wandering spider to make an alternative to Viagra? Get on it, Pfizer competitors! I only demand a small fee for the inspiration.

  • Jay

    The Redback Spider is NOT a Black Widow Spider; they are two (2) different widow spiders. They have very similar habits and comparable neurotoxic venom. They look almost identical, except for the Redback’s dorsal stripe, but they are NOT the same spider.

  • Kaitlyn Taylor

    It may be true that it has powerful venom, but the simple fact that it can’t bite a human and that they’re an extremely shy spider that would rather run than bite, makes it not dangerous to humans, so this list (most DANGEROUS spiders) is not where it belongs. Were it a list of most VENEMOUS spiders, then yes the daddy long-legs should appear on it 🙂

    • John Hanson

      No totally myth

  • Kevin Bacon
  • Just found a camel spider in my office. And I’m from the south of Europe

  • John Hanson

    Absolutely not, they have no fangs or venom at all. In fact the only way they could harm even small creatures would be through ingestion.

  • Grant Bogner

    Plus, they’re not even spiders. They’re opiliones, and they’re completely harmless, although they CAN penetrate the skin. Their bite causes a slight burning sensation for a few seconds, but nothing more.