Orchard Spider Bite: Is It Poisonous? Get the Facts Straight

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

Leucauge Venusta

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.

Size

Orchard spiders are small creatures. Typically, their body length ranges between 5-9 mm. It is essential to consider their size when identifying them.

Color

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.

Web

Identification also relies on observing their webs. They spin horizontal orb-webs with a unique zigzag pattern (source).

Characteristics:

  • Body length: 5-9 mm
  • Metallic green or silver head and thorax
  • Silver, yellow, and black abdomen
  • Horizontal orb-webs with zigzag pattern

Comparison table:

Feature Leucauge Venusta
Size 5-9 mm body length
Color Metallic green/silver, yellow, and black
Web Horizontal orb-web with zigzag pattern

Orchard Spider Bite

Symptoms

Orchard spider bites are usually not harmful to humans, but could cause mild symptoms. Some people might experience:

  • Localized swelling
  • Redness
  • Itching

These symptoms are generally short-lived and often resolve on their own without any treatment.

Causes

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
Swelling Moderate Severe
Redness Present Present
Itching Present Sometimes
Nausea/Vomiting Rare Sometimes
Fever Rare Sometimes
Rash Rare Sometimes

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

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
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

Brown Recluse

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
  • Itching
  • Dermatitis necrosis

Hobo Spider

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:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Wolf Spider

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:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Tarantula

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
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
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

First Aid

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.

Medical Treatment

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)
Non-venomous Venomous
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.

Reader Emails

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

Orchard Spider

Hi Robert,
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.
Glastonbury, Ct

Orchard Spider

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?
Thanks.
Signature: Mike

Orchard Spider

Hi Mike,
This beautiful spider is an Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta.  Many individuals also have bright orange spots.

Hello Daniel,
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 Again,
Mike

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….
Thanks,
Geoffrey Bosmann
Midway, Kentucky

Hi Geoffrey,
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 .
Thanks
Barry

Hi Barry,
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
Hello,
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.
Signature: Georgepat

Mating Orchard Spiders

Hi Georgepat,
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.

Mating Orchard Spiders

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

Hi Lee,
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

 

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
Chris

Hi Chris,
You are exactly correct. This is an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge.

Letter 9 – Orchard Spider

 

Unknown 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

Orchard Spider

Hi Bill,
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.
Bill

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

9 thoughts on “Orchard Spider Bite: Is It Poisonous? Get the Facts Straight”

  1. I’ve been trying to find out information on this type of spider but every time I click on a new person asking the same question the only reply is ” thank you for not killing it”. Or ” yes we do read every entry”. I visited 4 already with the same reply and no information weather or not it’s harmful to my kids playing in the back yard.
    Please let me know if:
    1. Is it poisonous?
    2. Where is it most common?
    3. How big do they grow?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • The responses you cited above do not sound like our responses, so we are presuming you have visited other forums. While Orchard Spiders do have venom, it is our understanding that they are not harmful to humans. According to BugGuide‘s information on the family Tetragnathidae: “These spiders will bite if threatened, but the bite is not harmful to people. It is recommended that they not be picked up, but rather observed in their natural environment (e.g. – on their web).” Here is the BugGuide data map for distribution, and it is our understanding that they are more common in the south. The size listed on BugGuide is: “emale body length 5.5 – 7.5 mm Male body length 3.5 – 4.0 mm.”

      Reply
  2. A friend and I were out in the woods in Huntsville Alabama and saw an orb spider that was blue. I did a casual search and I’m not seeing a spider that resembles it. It’s probably still in its web as we saw it yesterday. It had some banding but was very blue.

    Reply
  3. I have a number 1 spider that I catch he’s one a male orchard could not mess with. I had one his name was d’angelo I would fee him bugs he was king of his territory I would put a male house spider in with him and and he would beat them in fights they would retreat. Now its time again does your orb waever spider have what it takes to take on the KING spider.

    Reply
  4. There’s 2 more number 1 spiders related to my first number 1 spider so thats 3 number 1 male KING SPIDERS that will destroy a male orchard spider. [Plus there are new rivals to my spiders 1.male eunuch spider 2.male european cave spider 3.male furrow orb spider 4. Male banded garden spider 5. Male nesticus cellulanus spider]. NOTE: IF YOU SUPPORT ANY OF MY SPIDERS RIVALS LETS HAVE A DEBATE ON WHO WINS FIGHT OVER WEB TERRITORY.

    Reply
  5. My brother found this on his aunts porch with another one, I personally hate spiders and my brother kept a few in an empty cookie box. I don’t like him touching them but I think he likes seeing them and finding out if their venomous.

    Reply
  6. Today is July 14, 2020. I have a pet venusta orchard spider right here next to my chair on the deck. I live in S.E MICHIGAN. I love my little buddy, it’s very beautiful and hangs under it’s web. I hope it lives all summer long. BEAUTIFUL SPIDER. I LOVE SPIDERS.

    Reply
  7. I am in Weston Florida I caught a orchard spider with my brother first thinking it was a black widow! I did research and found out it was a orchard spider and gave it a ladybug to eat. Check out Ethan xs on Youtube!

    Reply

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