Poisonous Spiders in Tennessee

Few things cause as much fear and anxiety in people as the thought of poisonous spiders. Tennessee is home to many species of spiders; however, only two are poisonous – the black widow and the brown recluse. Both of these species are found in every Tennessee county. 

Nashville’s Spider Exterminator Deric Boileau is the owner of EarthWise Pest Solutions. He’s also recognized across Tennessee as a Brown Recluse Pest Control expert.  Mr Boileau is a regular contributor to local television news reports covering problematic insects, bugs and mosquitos in Middle Tennessee.

Deric was recently interviewed on WSMV Channel 4 News regarding the growing spider populations in Middle Tennessee.  Watch the Channel 4 video here or on their website

Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown recluse spiders are light to dark brown, with characteristic dark brown violin marking on back.


Brown recluse spiders are nocturnal and eat other bugs like cockroaches and crickets. Male brown recluse spiders wander farther than females and will crawl into shoes or other clothing.


Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors in debris and wood piles. They can be found indoors in storage areas and dark recesses.


Like the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider bites in defense and does not bite humans instinctively. They will bite humans when the clothing they are hiding in is worn. The brown recluse spider bite is painful and can produce an open, ulcerating sore.


To avoid brown recluse spiders, avoid keeping clothing on the floor. Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers, and shake out all clothing that has been in a hamper before wearing or washing.

Black Widow Spiders

Black widow spiders are most recognized for the red hourglass shape under their abdomen. Contrary to legend, female black widow spiders rarely devour the male black widow spider after mating.


Black widow spiders spin their webs near ground level. They often build their webs in protected areas, such as in boxes and in firewood.


Black widow spiders are often found around wood piles and gain entry into a structure when firewood is carried into a building. They are also found under eaves, in boxes, and other areas where they are undisturbed.


The venom of a black widow spider is a neurotoxin and is used as a defense. Black widow spiders do not bite humans instinctively. The black widow spider bite can cause severe pain. Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to a severe reaction to a black widow spider bite.


Avoid black widow spider bites by wearing heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time. Spiders often hide in shoes, so check shoes and shake them out before wearing. When spider webs are visible, use caution before putting your hands or feet in that area.

Other spiders

Yellow Garden Spiders

Yellow Garden Spiders are commonly found throughout garden areas and woodlands, the spider is easily identifiable by the distinctive yellow and black coloring found on the abdomen. The legs are equally noticeable by the alternating bands of orange and black on the legs, though this pattern may vary from spider to spider.

Females measure in larger than the males. Besides being smaller, males do not promote their colors as such, and might appear a shade or two paler in the process.

Webs produced by the Yellow Garden Spider is also distinct as sometimes having a zig-zag type pattern down the middle of their webs, reportedly produced by a nearby male. Additionally, their webs will be built as a spiral that builds out from the center.

Yellow Garden Spiders might also go under the name of Common Garden Spider or Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider in other publications. Either way, spotting one of these spiders is quite a treat as their unique shape and striking colors add a bit of natural “punch” to your garden.

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