Mar 112016

Funnel web spider

The creepy-crawly world of spiders recently got a new member: Aphonopelma johnnycashi, a tarantula species named for the late country singer Johnny Cash. The spider is abundant near Folsom State Prison in California, where Cash recorded a famous live album in 1968. The tarantula’s dark coloration also reminded researchers of Cash’s preference for black attire.

If you end up getting bitten by adult male shown here, you may end up with a bee-sting-like irritation. But consider yourself lucky; unlike Aphonopelma johnnycashi, the following spiders are considered the most dangerous on Earth.

10. False widow spider
Ranking spiders by dangerousness is largely a subjective thing; some have more powerful venom, while others apparently bite more often. But here’s a loose ranking based on, if nothing else, downright scariness.

There’s nothing false about the threat from the false widow spider, often cited as the most venomous in the United Kingdom. British pro soccer player James Gray found that out the hard way in February 2016, when a spider bite, attributed to a false widow, landed him in the hospital.

9. Katipo spider
If the back end of this New Zealand spider looks familiar, that’s because it has some very nasty, very infamous sisters: American widows. Considered to be one of the most poisonous creatures in New Zealand, Katipo spiders are considered endangered, and they’re shy critters, but their venom packs a punch, and skinny dipping anywhere in their territory would be very, very unwise.

8. Brown widow spider
The neurotoxin of the female brown widow, shown here, is at least as potent as that of the much-feared black widow.

Brown widow: Shy biters
… brown widows are also shy critters, and their bites are thought to be less capable of significant venom transfer, compared with their black cousins. In other words, though her bite is considered dangerous, the effects of a brown widow’s venom are usually confined to the bite area and surrounding tissue.

7. Hairy mystery spider
Sometimes the panic from a suspected spider infestation can be just as dangerous as a bite itself.

In 2012, this insect, at first suspected to be a previously undiscovered species of tarantula, caused a wave of fear in the Indian state of Assam, with colonies of them reportedly attacking villagers and causing painful swelling.

6. Black widow spider
The bite of a female black widow is thought to be 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake. A bite can cause severe muscle pain and spasms, as well as abdominal cramps, for up to a week.

More than 2,000 people report black widow bites yearly, but deaths are rare these days.

5. Brown recluse spider
If you see a brown spider with a violin shape on its back, proceed with caution: You’re looking at a brown recluse. Most bites are minor, but occasionally, skin around a brown recluse bite will become necrotic, turning a dark color and becoming a deep, open sore as it dies.

4. Chilean recluse spider
Among the recluse spiders, this one is often considered to be the most dangerous.

Bite victims may suffer symptoms ranging from mild skin irritation to severe premature death of skin or other cells. Rarely, death can occur; one study cites death in about three to four percent of cases.

3. Brazilian wandering spider
Remember those panicked reports of people finding deadly spiders-perhaps the deadliest on Earth-in bunches of bananas? Those reports referred to the Brazilian wandering spider, whose bite can cause severe burning, sweating, and goose bumps followed by high or low blood pressure, nausea, hypothermia, blurred vision, vertigo, and convulsions.

The Guinness Book of World Records considers the Brazilian wandering spider the most venomous in the world. Hundreds of bites are reported annually, but a powerful anti-venom prevents deaths in most cases.

2. Redback spider
Look familiar? This is Australia’s answer to a black widow, the redback spider.

Like black widows, only the female redback is considered worthy of your fear … or maybe just respect from a distance. Up to 10,000 people are bitten by these critters in Australia every year.

1. Funnel web spider
The venom from this spider is packed with at least 40 different toxic proteins, which can overload the body’s nervous system and reportedly kill someone in minutes.

“With a funnel web bite to the torso, you’re dead,” Dr. Robert Raven of the Queensland Museum has said. “No other spider can claim that reputation.”

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