Most spiders live outdoors, do not pose any health risks to people, and are generally helpful by keeping insect populations in check. However, all spiders have venom and use it to subdue their prey and to pre-digest their prey’s bodily contents. Though all spiders have voluntary control of how much venom they inject during a bite, only a few species live near or inside human’s homes, bite people, or have venom which can cause harm to people. If a spider bite is suspected, especially from a black widow or brown recluse, swelling and redness in the bitten area will occur. Clean the wound with soap and water, and use a cold pack on the site to alleviate the pain and swelling. Fevers, nausea, and abdominal pain may occur, in which case the bite victim should seek medical help. It is best to catch the spider that bit if at all possible for proper identification
Spiders – The Black Widow Spider:
The Black Widow spider (pictured above) is probably the most recognized spider of all. The females are about one half inch long, with a spherical black abdomen marked with a red or orange hourglass. The males look completely different- about half the size of the female, brownish with variable red spots and white lines.
The pain from a black widow bite is usually immediate, with maximum pain during the first one to three hours, and gradual subsidence after 12 to 48 hours. Major symptoms include fevers and increased blood pressure, and one should seek medical attention.
The Brown Recluse spider is the other medically important spider in the continental U.S. It is easily identified by the dark violin-shaped marking on the top of its thorax. Note on the map provided of the Brown Recluse’s range, limited to most southern and central states.
Brown recluse bites may not be felt right away, but a stinging pain may be felt up to eight hours after the occurrence. A small blister usually forms around the bitten area, and the dead tissue gradually sloughs away over a two week period. In severe cases, medical attention will be necessary in treating the dead skin tissue.