Orchard orbweavers, specifically the species Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta, are small and attractive spiders commonly found in the eastern United States 1. They are often present in gardens and around homes, but many people wonder if their bite is poisonous.
While venomous spiders, such as the brown recluse, can cause significant symptoms like loxoscelism syndrome, resulting in inflammatory, hemorrhagic, and painful lesions 2, orchard orbweavers are generally harmless to humans. Their bite may cause minor discomfort, but it does not possess any serious medical concern, making it safe to coexist with these creatures in the environment.
Orchard Spider Identification
Orchard spiders belong to the genus Leucauge. A common species to identify is the Leucauge venusta. These spiders are known for their attractive appearance and can often be found in the eastern U.S.
Orchard spiders are small creatures. Typically, their body length ranges between 5-9 mm. It is essential to consider their size when identifying them.
Orchard spiders display distinct colors and patterns. The Leucauge venusta species exhibits a metallic green or silver head and thorax, with a striking silver, yellow, and black pattern on its abdomen.
Identification also relies on observing their webs. They spin horizontal orb-webs with a unique zigzag pattern (source).
- Body length: 5-9 mm
- Metallic green or silver head and thorax
- Silver, yellow, and black abdomen
- Horizontal orb-webs with zigzag pattern
|Size||5-9 mm body length|
|Color||Metallic green/silver, yellow, and black|
|Web||Horizontal orb-web with zigzag pattern|
Orchard Spider Bite
Orchard spider bites are usually not harmful to humans, but could cause mild symptoms. Some people might experience:
- Localized swelling
These symptoms are generally short-lived and often resolve on their own without any treatment.
Orchard spiders (Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta) are common and attractive spiders found in the eastern United States. They typically don’t pose a threat to humans, and their bites are often a reaction to being threatened or accidentally touched.
Signs and Symptoms
When bitten by an orchard spider, a person might experience:
- Mild pain
- Nausea (rare)
- Vomiting (rare)
- Fever (rare)
- Rash (rare)
In most cases, these symptoms are minor and don’t require medical attention. However, if symptoms worsen or persist, consult a healthcare professional.
|Comparison||Orchard Spider Bite||Venomous Spider Bite|
|Pain||Mild||Moderate to Severe|
To reduce the risk of an orchard spider bite, follow these measures:
- Be cautious in areas where these spiders are known to inhabit
- Wear gloves when working in gardens or handling vegetation
- Avoid touching spiders, and teach children to do the same
Comparing Spider Bites
Black widow spiders are known for their dangerous bites. Their venom contains a neurotoxin that can cause severe pain, muscle cramps, and in rare cases, even death. Some symptoms of a black widow bite include:
- Intense pain
Brown recluse bites can lead to a condition called loxoscelism syndrome. This bite initially causes no pain but develops into a painful, inflammatory, and hemorrhagic lesion after a few days. Necrosis may spread, leading to further complications. Some symptoms of a brown recluse bite are:
- Red, white, and blue rings around the bite site
- Dermatitis necrosis
Hobo spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses, but their bites are usually not as dangerous. The bite could cause local pain and swelling, as well as some non-life-threatening symptoms like:
Wolf spider bites are usually not dangerous and cause mild pain and itchiness. However, people with allergies should seek medical attention promptly. Symptoms of a wolf spider bite may include:
Tarantula bites cause moderate pain but are usually not life-threatening. Tarantula hairs can cause more irritation than their bites, causing itching and rashes. Symptoms of a tarantula bite may involve:
- Local pain
|Spider||Venom Potency||Common Symptoms|
|Black Widow||High||Pain, cramps, sweating|
|Brown Recluse||Moderate||Pain, necrosis, itching|
|Hobo Spider||Low||Pain, swelling, weakness|
|Wolf Spider||Low||Pain, redness, itching|
|Tarantula||Low||Pain, swelling, numbness|
In conclusion, the severity of spider bites varies, but widow spiders and recluse spiders pose the most danger. Always seek medical attention if any concerning symptoms after a spider bite occur to ensure proper treatment.
Treatment and Prevention
Orchard spider bites are not considered venomous or dangerous to humans. However, if bitten, wash the bite area with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Apply an ice pack on the bite to minimize swelling and take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to alleviate discomfort. If you experience an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing or severe swelling, take antihistamines and seek medical attention immediately.
For most people, an orchard spider bite does not require medical treatment. However, it’s still important to monitor for signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, and discharge. In case of infection, a medical professional may prescribe antibiotics or recommend the use of antibiotic ointment.
Note: If you are unsure about the spider that bit you, it’s recommended to seek medical attention since other spiders like the brown recluse or black widow pose more significant risks.
In the rare event of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), antivenom treatments may be administered by a healthcare professional.
Preventing Spider Bites
To reduce the risk of spider bites, follow these precautionary measures:
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and a hat when working in spider-prone areas like sheds, woodpiles, or gardens.
- Keep your home clean and free from clutter, especially in closets or storage areas.
- Use caution when handling items stored outdoors or in dark places where spiders may reside.
- Seal any gaps or cracks in your home to prevent spiders from entering.
- Relocate woodpiles, debris, and vegetation away from your home, as these can serve as habitats for spiders.
|Orchard Spider Bites||Venomous Spider Bites (e.g., Brown Recluse, Black Widow)|
|Pain and discomfort||Severe pain, cramping, sweating, chills, and more|
|No antivenom needed||Antivenom treatment may be required|
|Typically not dangerous||Can be life-threatening in severe cases|
Remember, the key to preventing and treating orchard spider bites is remaining cautious, practicing good sanitation, and seeking medical attention if you are unsure or experience severe symptoms.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Orchard Spider
SMILEY FACE ORCHARD SPIDER
June 10, 2010
hi just shot this orchard spider and it looks like a smiley face
ROBERT W HILL
sunset beach , nc
Thank you for sending in your wonderful photo of the belly of an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta. The last photo we posted did not show the distinctive belly pattern of some individuals. The BugGuide page on the Orchard Spider has interesting information. We will be post dating your letter so that it can be viewed live on the last day of our trip to Ohio, June 22.
Letter 2 – Orchard Spider
a green striped spider
June 8, 2010
I saw this spider on my back porch. I have 4 kids & when we come across something we don’t know, we look for it. We can’t seem to get the information we are looking for with this one. Do you know what this guy is called & if it’s poisonous?
A Mom in Ct.
Dear Mom in Ct.,
This is an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta. All spiders have venom, but very few are actually harmful to people, either because they won’t bite, rarely bite, or if they do bite it causes no serious harm. The Orchard Spider is not considered a dangerous species. You may find more information on the Orchard Spider on BugGuide.
Letter 3 – Orchard Spider
green & chrome spider
Location: New Jersey
July 1, 2011 4:45 pm
Just curious to know exactly what kind of spider this is? Found it in the garage today and thought it was odd since I lived in this area for 40+ years and never saw one like it. Color is hard to see in pix but the sliver part is highly reflective almost like a mirror and the green is day-glow neon. Built a 2 foot diameter web overnight and it wasn’t in my way so I left it alone. I know bright colors in nature means toxic or deadly to predators so what is this guy packing?
This beautiful spider is an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta. Many individuals also have bright orange spots.
Thanks! I don’t believe in killing stuff and I leave them where I find them; he’s made himself a nice home in the garage and that’s where I’ll leave him. Thing is though, I use the garage as my shop daily and didn’t want to leave something potentially hazardous in there. I always say everyone needs a home & everyone’s got to eat so we welcome all who find their way here. You should see the looks I get when I show people the bee houses and bat boxes we installed, but after they overcome their misguided fears (and watch me pet the bumblebees on their backs) they leave with a new found respect for things.
This isn’t my first time on your site; a few years ago you identified 7 spotted beetle larvae for me which we now anxiously await thier return to our foundation walls every April. When they first appeared, I emailed pix to an exterminator to identify them and he said “I dont know what it is but I’ll kill them for you.” That’s when I found your site and I called him back to let him know they were beneficial. Good thing I found your site because after they turned into Ladybugs, our aphid problem disappeared. Before the beetles arrived for the first time, we spent hundreds of dollars a year to rid the aphids and they still were a serious pest killing many of our plants each season.
Keep up the good work! The knowledge you share really makes a difference!
Thanks for the update Mike. It is nice to know we have been helpful.
Letter 4 – Another Orchard Spider
And while we’re at it….
This is the second Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, we received in two days. Your photo shows the coloration quite nicely.
Letter 5 – Beautiful Leucauge or Orchard Spider
I am wondering what kind of spider this is. I haven’t found any reference to the blue markings on the ventral surface. I took the photo of the spider on its web between two trees. There was a second of the same species close by. The location was in woods in Northern NJ , USA .
You have taken a photo of Leucauge venusta, or the Beautiful Leucauge. The scientific name venusta means beautiful, and well deserved, for it is one of the most beautiful of all our spiders. I have also found this spider called the Orchard Spider. It is a common and widely distributed species, extending beyond the limits of the United States both north and south. It is a bright green and silver-white spider, tinged with golden, and sometimes with orange-yellow or copper-red spots. Red spots seem to be common in the south, but in the north, they are usually absent, as in your photo. The spider builds an orb-shaped web that is nearly horizontal, or slightly inclined, in open, well-lighted situations. The web can be more than a foot across and is built in shrubs and trees.
Thanks so much for your quick reply. I will be using this photo along with a number of other wildlife photos in my daughter’s classroom and I will certainly be letting them know about your help and your website. Thanks again Barry
Letter 6 – Mating Orchard Spiders
Subject: Mating Dance of Orchard Spiders
Location: Near the Maury River in Glasgow, Virginia, Rockbridge County.
September 3, 2012 9:06 am
I took these shots this past summer in a field near Glasgow, Virginia.
I have ID’ed them as stated above.
I saw the female (greenish color) cast off her old exoskeleton earlier that morning.
I spent the better part of several hours watching them go about the business of mating, and took many photographs.
Orchard Spiders, Leucauge venusta, are harmless and beautiful spiders. Your series of photos documenting the courtship process are quite nice and a wonderful addition to our Bug Love archives. It should be noted that the coloration is not a clear indication of sex in the Orchard Spider. The male has the more prominent pedipalps, a pair of extremities that are positioned close to the mandibles, slightly in front of the first pair of true legs. More information on the Orchard Spider is available on BugGuide.
Letter 7 – Orchard Spider
Venusta Orchard Spider??
I’m pretty sure that this is an Orchard Spider. I’m just not positive what species it might be. Feel free to use the images if you like. I have a new macro lens for my camera so I imagine I will have many more "bug" pics to follow. 🙂
Lee Davis in Wesley Chapel, FL
Thanks so much for sending in your awesome photograph of an Orchard Spider. We haven’t posted a recent image of this beautiful spider recently.
Letter 8 – Orchard Spider
My two boys and I enjoy an occasional trip to a local Louisiana swamp, while most of the spider we encounter are the large “Bananna Spiders”, there are these ocassional very colorful jewels. Based on another posting on your website it looks like an Orchard Spider. Can you comment? Thanks
You are exactly correct. This is an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge.
Letter 9 – Orchard Spider
Location: Lyons, Illinois
August 16, 2010 7:43 am
I shot these photos of a small spider that had spun a web across our recycle bin in our basement stairwell. Although it is small, it is extremely colorful, as the photos show.
Bill in Lyons
Your colorful spider is an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, a pretty species with variable markings. There is some discussion on BugGuide about this spider.
Thank you for your reply – I did look at many of the spiders on your site, and thought this might be an Orchard variety, but it is nice to have confirmation. Although I happen to be an arachnophobe (?) of the first order, I did find this particular spider interesting.