Venomous spiders include the black widow, brown recluse, and hobo and mouse spiders (Camel Spider is not venemous). They can be dangerous to outdoor individuals including backpackers, farmers, foresters, landscapers, and any other worker who spends time outside. These spiders occasionally find their way inside structures or buildings and can also present a risk to people living inside. Spiders are usually not aggressive and most bites occur because a spider is trapped or unintentionally contacted. It is important for people to educate themselves about their risk of exposure to venomous spiders, how they can prevent and protect themselves from spider bites, and what they should do if they are bitten.
Black widow spiders are found throughout North America, but are most common in the southern and western areas of the United States. They are identified by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of their abdomen. They are usually found in undisturbed areas such as woodpiles, under eaves, fences, and other areas where debris has accumulated. They may also be found living in outdoor toilets where flies are plentiful.
Black widow spiders build webs between objects, and bites usually occur when humans come into direct contact with these webs. A bite from a black widow can be distinguished from other insect bites by the two puncture marks it makes in the skin. The venom is a neurotoxin that produces pain at the bite area and then spreads to the chest, abdomen, or the entire body.
Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse spider, also known as the violin spider, is most commonly found in the Midwestern and southern states of the United States. It is brown in color with a characteristic dark violin-shaped (or fiddle-shaped) marking on its head and has six equal-sized eyes (most spiders have eight eyes). Brown recluse spiders are usually found in places with secluded, dry, sheltered areas such as underneath structures logs, or in piles of rocks or leaves. If a brown recluse spider wanders indoors, they may be found in dark closets, shoes, or attics.
The brown recluse spider cannot bite humans without some form of counter pressure, for example, through unintentional contact that traps the spider against the skin. Bites may cause a stinging sensation with localized pain. A small white blister usually develops at the site of the bite. The venom of a brown recluse can cause a severe lesion by destroying skin tissue (skin necrosis). This skin lesion will require professional medical attention.
The hobo spider is found throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is large and brown with a distinct pattern of yellow markings on its abdomen. Unlike many other similar looking spiders, hobo spiders do not have dark bands on their legs. To catch their prey, hobo spiders build funnel webs in holes, cracks, and recesses. They may be found in outdoor places with retaining walls, and in foundations, window wells, and stacks of firewood and bricks. Indoors, they can nest between boxes or other storage items, on window sills, under baseboard heaters or radiators, behind furniture, and in closets. Hobo spiders do not climb like most spiders but are fast runners. These spiders are much more likely to attack if provoked or threatened. The bite of a hobo spider may go unnoticed; however a moderate to severe, slow-healing wound will develop.
The mouse spider is a medium to large spider of up to 1 and 1/2 inches in body length. The male Mouse Spider often has a bright red head and elongated fangs. This spider is known to cause severe illness, especially to young children - similar to Red-Back Spider. Although normally not aggressive, the male mouse spider will bite if provoked, and should be considered dangerous to humans. It has large hard fangs which can cause a deep painful bite. First aid and medical attention (ambulance) should be sought as soon as possible. Mouse spiders are ground dwellers with burrows of more than 3 feet deep. The male often wanders about during the day on open ground, especially after rain, in search of females.
The Redback spider is a potentially dangerous spider native to Australia. It resembles a Black widow spider. It is a member of the genus Latrodectus or the widow family of spiders, which are found throughout the world. The female is easily recognisable by its black body with prominent red stripe on its abdomen. Females have a body length of about a centimetre while the male is smaller, being only 3 to 4 millimetres long. The Redback spider is one of few animals which display sexual cannibalism while mating.
Redbacks are considered one of the most dangerous spiders in Australia. The Redback spider has a neurotoxic venom which is toxic to humans with bites causing severe pain. There is an antivenom for Redback bites which is commercially available.
Camel Spider (Solifugae)
A camel spider, which is also in the class Arachnida with spiders interestingly enough, is not a true spider. Also it is not poisonous (at least the majority of them are not poisonous). A camel spider is actually a solpugid, and there are about 900 species of them known to date. Around 50 species of camel spiders are found in southwest US and about 240 in southern Africa. The reason behind the name ‘camel spiders’ is simply because they are found in the desert. A Camel spider is also known as wind scorpion, sun spider, and wind spider.
Most Solifugae inhabit warm and arid habitats, including virtually all deserts in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, excluding Australia. Some species have been known to live in grassland or forest habitats.
Symptoms of a Spider Bite
Symptoms associated with spider bites can vary from minor to severe. Although extremely rare, death can occur in the most severe cases. Possible symptoms resulting from a spider bite include the following:
- Itching or rash
- Pain radiating from the site of the bite
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Reddish to purplish color or blister
- Increased sweating
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety or restlessness
- High blood pressure
Prevention from a Spider Bite
- Inspect or shake out any clothing, shoes, towels, or equipment before use.
- Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, hat, gloves, and boots when handling stacked or undisturbed piles of materials.
- Minimize the empty spaces between stacked materials.
- Remove and reduce debris and rubble from around the outdoor work areas.
- Trim or eliminate tall grasses from around outdoor work areas.
- Store apparel and outdoor equipment in tightly closed plastic bags.
First Aid for a Spider Bite
Individuals should take the following steps if they are bitten by a spider:
- Stay calm. Identify the type of spider if it is possible to do so safely. Identification will aid in medical treatment.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
- Apply a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice to the bite area to reduce swelling.
- Elevate bite area if possible.
- Do not attempt to remove venom.
- Notify your supervisor.
- Immediately seek professional medical attention.
Catching a Spider
Sometimes it's important to catch a spider, because it helps to show it to the doctor, to know if it's really venomous, and if it is, what kind of toxins it injected. You can also catch a spider to get rid off it. Here is how:
- Quickly place an empty jar over the spider.
- Push a stiff piece of card under the jar to cover its mouth.
- Up-end the jar so that the spider falls to the bottom.
- Quickly remove the card and securely replace the jar's lid.
More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some information on how to identify and avoid poisonous spiders. Check out our main page for more survival scenarios here Survival Guide, knowledge is light, and knowledge can save your life. Make sure you do your best to know what to do in a survival situation and then hope for the best.
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