The following post was sent to the Abuja expats email list recently:
"Twice in the last few weeks we have found medium sized
(about 1.5 inches across) fast and fairly aggressive
brown spiders in our house. Just wondering is anyone
familiar with which spiders are dangerous?"
There is an interesting response from another member:
"All spiders are venomous, it's how they subdue their prey, and the venom
is basically a virile collection of digestive enzymes that are injected
into the prey which is held by the spiders front legs, and pedipalps while
the venom takes effect. The digestive enzymes do their work and the spider
then sucks up the resulting soup of digested tissues from the prey. You
can see this yourself by pulling apart the exoskeleton of prey items to
find there is nothing left inside. Creepy? not really as there is no
malicious intent on the spiders part.
Of course, quite by accident, some spiders digestive enzymes are
problematic for humans as they begin to digest the flesh around a spider
bite, and some people seem more susceptible than others to some spiders
venoms, and some bites can occasionaly prove fatal. Spider bites are
however, extremely rare events.
So which spiders are the most dangerous? In Nigeria some of the larger
Selenocosmia type (Tarantula sized things) spiders will have long fangs
and can inflict a painful bite, and most of the spiders that live in
underground burrows, or in crevices with a distinct funnel shape to the
entrance of the thick sticky web are potentially dangerous (but only if
you stick your finger down their burrow).
I suspect the brown spiders you speak off are very flattened (yes, before
you have smacked them with a broom) looking with long legs which appear to
be bent forward a little, and are one of the more common spiders found in
houses in West Africa where they generally live quite peacefully with
their neighbours (you) and actually render a useful service by eating a
host of troublesome insects. If it is the species I think it is, then what
you are troubled with are juveniles -they will get bigger, but also mind
their own business.
Of course you could, as one of the other respondents has suggested, poison
every living thing in your house with a fumigation bomb, perhaps including
yourself with the residues, but if like me, you brought a tolerant
disposition with you to Nigeria, you could assimilate these quite
interesting, and essentially harmless, elements of local biodiversity into
So now you know. Love thy spiders! The image above by the way is a Tarantula, commonly found in Nigeria.