Identifying Dangerous Spiders and Treating Bites

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As much as we try to avoid creepy-crawly critters, it’s inevitable that people will have run-ins with spiders, whether in the city, the suburbs, or the countryside. Aside from dousing every crack and crevice of your home with bug spray, there are things you can do to prevent spider bites and hasten healing if one should get its fangs on you.

Despite common fears about spiders (arachnophobia is the most common creature-based phobia) the reality is that most of them are harmless. The existence of spiders is a good thing in general, since they help control other insects that spread disease, such as mosquitoes and cockroaches. If you can stand the idea, leaving spiders alone to do their thing (eat other pests) inside your home is a form of free pest control.

Know Which Spiders Are Dangerous

That said, it’s important to know which spiders present a real threat so you can protect yourself and your family. In the U.S. there are several common venomous spiders to watch out for, including the black widow and the brown recluse.

  • Black Widow — These jet black spiders have a “shiny” appearance and a bulbous abdomen. The underside of the female’s abdomen has a distinctive red hourglass-shaped marking. The bite is described as feeling like a pin prick, although some don’t realize they’ve been bitten. Black widows tend to roost in cool, dark places (like a garden shed or the back of a closet), so use caution when reaching into dark spaces. Localized symptoms of a black widow bite are pain, redness, swelling, and burning at the site of the bite.
  • Brown Recluse –– These brown spiders have long, outstretched legs and a distinctive violin-shaped pattern on their cephalothorax. The bite is described as feeling like a mild stinging, followed by redness and severe pain that may not occur for eight hours or more. Some people describe rings around the bite area that have a “bull’s eye” pattern. A blister forms at the site, that later disappears, to reveal a deep ulcer that may turn black (necrotic flesh wound).

The generalized symptoms for both black widow and brown recluse bites are:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Overall feeling of fatigue
  • Rash
  • Muscle tension

If you are bitten by a black widow or brown recluse, wash the site with soap and water, elevate the area to prevent the venom from spreading, tie a snug bandage around the area, and seek immediate emergency care.

Moderate-Risk and Low-Risk Spiders

Black house spiders, wolf spiders, and mouse spiders also deliver a painful bite and should be avoided. Other common spiders that are fairly harmless and considered “low risk” are garden spiders (also known as “orb weaving” spiders), trap door spiders, and huntsman spiders. Commonly encountered “daddy longlegs” are harmless and, in fact, aren’t spiders at all, despite their similar appearance to spiders.

Treating Non-Emergency Bites

Spider bites are actually quite rare. Most presumed spider bites are bites from other insects or due to another condition altogether.

For spider bites that cause itching, redness, swelling, and other mild symptoms, wash the area well with soap and water, apply a cool compress, use over-the-counter pain relievers, and call the doctor if symptoms worsen.

Although spider bites are rare, a bite from a brown recluse, black widow, or other toxic spider can present a real danger, so make sure to take precautions and have California health insurance in case you need to visit an urgent care center or hospital. Call BenefitPackages today for more information about California health insurance.