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It is believed that there are currently around 40 documented spider species that exist within the state of Massachusetts, and only one of these species, the black widow, is considered dangerous to humans. Spiders that spin webs as their method for capturing prey are not as problematic in homes as the spiders that hunt down their prey without the assistance of webs. Spiders that hunt are constantly moving, or waiting to ambush an unsuspecting prey. It is not uncommon for hunting spiders to find their way into people’s homes, and most of the spiders that are found within homes are of the hunting variety. Although spiders do not pose a significant risk to human safety in Massachusetts, one spider, the broad-faced sac spider, is often found within homes, and this species has been known to inflict medically significant bites, but such instances are rare.

The broad-faced sac spider (BFS spider) is widespread throughout New England and is often spotted within and near homes. Those who are familiar with this species may have considered its bite to be benign, but a case of BFS spider envenomation in 2014 proved to be an issue to the bite victim. The bite victim in this case was a 50 year old Connecticut woman who sustained the bite while she had been in her kitchen. The woman reported the bite as feeling like a wasp sting, and she decided to capture the specimen in order to have it identified. The bite wound became red and swollen immediately, but luckily, the swelling had gone down by the next day. However, back in 1969, the first documented BFS spider envenomation occured and turned out to be a medically significant case. In this case, the bite victim was a 23 year old woman who required antibiotics in order to combat an infection caused by the spider’s bite. Although these spiders are not recognized as dangerous to humans, anyone sustaining a bite from one of these spiders should monitor their wound carefully and report to the hospital if swelling persists for more than one day.

Have you ever spotted a broad-faced sac spider within your home?