Spider Bites Guide – Know Your Spiders!

Spider bites guide - Know your spiders!  Spiders are everywhere and you are never more than 12 feet away from one. A single house and garden may have more than 80 species of spiders. Estimates show that there are more than 4000 species in the United States. All these spiders have venom, but only a few spider bites are considered to be lethal to humans and pets.

Even so, it is best to know more about the spiders that are a threat for us and to provide solid and valuable information on how to deal with these spiders.

We have to understand that all spiders are shy, timid creatures that only bite us when being threatened. These is why most spider bites occur by accident as people fail to notice the spiders, until is too late. The good news is that in North America, there are only a few species that have fangs large enough to pierce human skin. There is a real need for a spider bites guide to learn what to do if you are bitten by a spider.

Venomous spiders found in the United States include the black widow, brown recluse, and hobo spiders. They can be dangerous to people who spend time outside but these spiders occasionally find their way inside buildings and pose a risk to indoor people and pets. There are two types of spider venom. The first is cytotoxic (hobo spider and brown recluse) and the second one is neurotoxic (black widow).

Since it is difficult to identify a spider bite by a skin wound alone, in order to have a precise diagnostic it is recommended to capture the spider immediately after or during the bite and have it identified by an expert.

Spider Bites Guide for Dangerous US Spiders

The Black Widow Spider

Black widow spider  Five different “black” widow spider species are present in the United States. They are also known as Southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans), Northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and Western black widow (Latrodectus Hesperus). The black widow is found throughout North America. Black widow spiders enter your home when firewood is carried inside.

You can easily recognize a black widow as they have a shiny, jet black body, ¼ inch long. They have a very distinct, red, hourglass shape on the underside of their abdomen and the males are half as large as the females. Males are not poisonous or strong enough to inflict a bite. On a spider bites pain scale, where level 1 is not perceptible and level ten is the most severe, the black widow spider bites pain rates a ten. Regarding skin damage levels, on the same measuring scale, it rates a four. Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to a severe reaction to a black widow spider bite.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:   

  • Immediate pain, burning and swelling.
  • Cramping pain and muscle rigidity.
  • Headache and dizziness.
  • Rash and itching.
  • Restlessness and anxiety.
  • Sweating.
  • Swelling of the eyelids.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Salivation and tearing of the eyes.

What to do if bitten by a black widow:

  • Wash the spider bite with soap and water.
  • Use both cold and warm compresses.
  • Take acetaminophen or antihistamine to reduce swelling.
  • Do not apply pressure on the spider bite wound.
  • Do not apply bandages.
  • Go to the emergency room as a black widow spider bite is life threatening.

Avoid black widow spider bites by wearing heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time. Spiders often hide in shoes, so check shoes and shake them out before wearing. When spider webs are visible, use caution before putting your hands or feet in them as you never know when a black widow is lurking nearby.

The Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider  The brown recluse spider which also known as the violin spider has 11 closely related species. Brown recluse spiders are be found in the Southern and Midwest U.S. These spiders are brown to tan in color, ¼” – ½” long with leg spans greater than a quarter. There is a distinct dark brown violin shaped marking on the head and thorax. The violin spiders only have three pairs of eyes, whereas many spiders have eight. These are nocturnal spiders that feed on cockroaches and crickets. They live outdoors in debris and wood piles and the males are the ones that wander indoors in storage areas and dark recesses.

Like all spiders, the brown recluse spider only bites in defense and this occurs when the clothing, foot gear or head gear they are hiding in is worn. On a bite pain scale, the violin spider bites rates an eight and on the skin damage scale the level is ten.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:

  • Severe pain at bite site after about 4 hours.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Severe itching.
  • Fever.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Blistering.
  • Death of skin from necrotic venom.
  • Only 10% of spider bites result in anything more than a small red mark.

What to do if bitten by a brown recluse spider:

  • Keep the spider bite area dry.
  • Avoid any strenuous activity to avoid spreading the venom in the skin.
  • Use acetaminophen for pain relief.
  • Apply an ice compress on the spider bite wound.
  • Although it is not a life threatening bite you should see a doctor to receive the proper medication and remove the dead tissue in the area.

To prevent spider bites, shoes, gloves and other infrequently worn clothing should be shaken before attempting to wear them. Thorough vacuuming around windows, corners of rooms, closets, pictures, under furniture and storage shelves should be regularly done.

Survival MD

Spider Bites Guide for Non Dangerous US spiders

The Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider  Also called Tagenaria agrestis, the hobo spider is found in the northwestern United States, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. This spider makes thick webs with the funnel neck back in a wall crevice and wider mouth opening into a room. Hobo Spiders are found in moist areas of basements, garages or cellars, in ground level window wells, and so forth. This spider is about a ¼ to 5/8 inches in length, of brown color with a distinct pattern of yellow markings on its back. The hobo spider venom is a necrotic type that can cause tissue death and sloughing of the skin next to the bite. The wound can require up to 6 months to heal. On a spider bites pain scale, the hobo spider rates a six and on the skin damage scale the level is three.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:

  • Bites will cause severe headaches that last for several days.
  • It often causes necrotic wounds.
  • The spider bite can go completely unnoticed since it is not initially painful.

What to do if bitten by a hobo spider:

  • Clean the site with soap and water.
  • Apply ice packs on the bite area.
  • Take acetaminophen or antihistamine to reduce swelling.
  • Watch the spider bite closely for signs of infection.
  • Do not apply pressure or bandages on the wound.
  • Although it is not a life threatening spider bite you should see a doctor to receive the proper medication.

Preventing spider bites by hobo spiders requires some simple, common sense measures. Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves tucked into gloves, long pants tucked into boots, and coveralls or a jacket with a hood. Wear gloves when working outdoors in potential habitats such as rock gardens, and when moving leaves or wood. Hobo spider bites occur in bed, when the sleeping person inadvertently rolls over or simply touches a spider. Hobo spiders usually get onto your bed by climbing up bedspreads or other linen which touches, or is very close to the floor; they are not proficient at scaling slick surfaces, such as polished wood or metal bedposts. Keep your bedspread at least eight inches above the floor.

The Sac Spider

Yellow Sac Spider  The sac spider, also known as the yellow sac spider is found throughout North America. It is often misidentified as brown recluse spider. These spiders are very small, about ¼ inch to 3/8 of an inch long and have no conspicuous markings. The front legs of the sac spider are longer than the rest of their body and legs. The color varies greatly among the species of this family. They are very pale and can be yellow, greenish and tan.

Most bites occur at night due to their nocturnal habits of emerging at twilight from their silken retreats to hunt their prey. You can find them inside running up walls at night. In the morning they drop to the ground and construct silken sacs in protected areas to rest in. On a spider bites pain scale, the hobo spider rates a four and on the skin damage scale the level is five.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:

  • A stinging sensation is common, similar to a bee sting.
  • Swelling.
  • Nausea.
  • Residual pain for days.

What to do if bitten by a sac spider:

  • Clean the site with soap and water.
  • Put hydrogen peroxide on the wound.
  • Apply ice packs on the spider bite.
  • Take acetaminophen or antihistamine to reduce swelling.
  • Watch bite closely for signs of infection.
  • Although it is not a life threatening spider bite you should see a doctor to receive the proper medication.

Preventing spider bites by hobo spiders requires some simple, common sense measures. Vacuum regularly and properly install glue traps, duct tape (sticky side up) or double-sided carpet tape. Keep bare hands out of places that you cannot see, and do not use bare hands to turn over possible hiding place.

The Wolf Spider

Wolf spider  These are large, hairy running spiders with eyes in 3 rows; the first row has 4 little eyes and the 2 other rows have 2 large eyes each. They are normally found outdoors, throughout North America (more than 100 different species) and they require a consistent source of moisture. They are very common outdoors under leaf litter, rocks and logs. These spiders look creepy, but they are harmless. You will feel the spider bites because of their large size. Wolf spiders they tend to stay at or near the floor level, especially along the walls, under furniture and other objects. On a spider bite pain scale, the wolf spider rates a four and on the skin damage scale the level is four as well.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:

  • Local pain, with mild skin irritation to muscle pain.

What to do if bitten by a sac spider:

  • Wolf spiders are basically harmless to humans and their pets.
  • You should treat the bite as any common spider bite.
  • Clean the site with soap and water.
  • Watch bites closely for signs of infection.

Try using glue boards or duct tape (sticky side up) to trap these spiders and properly install air conditioning, dehumidifiers and fans.

The Parson Spider

Parson spider  Parson spiders are commonly called the eastern parson spider, after the abdominal markings resembling an old-style cravat worn by clergy in the 18th century. You will find these spiders mainly in Central USA, with finds stretching from North Carolina to southern Alberta, Canada. Their appearance varies from a brown head to a black or gray thorax. They are ½ inch long and have a distinctive white or pink pattern on their middles. Parson spiders are covered in fine hairs and have a velvety texture. On a spider bites pain scale, the parson spider rates a two and it doesn’t produce any skin damage.

Here are the spider bites symptoms:

  • They are generally non-toxic, but many people have allergic reactions to these spider bites.
  • Local swelling and itching.
  • Initial pain can occur, but the pain sensation fades away after 1 hour.

What to do if bitten by an eastern parson spider:

  • Wash the spider bite with soap and water.
  • Take acetaminophen or antihistamine to reduce swelling.
  • Watch bites closely for signs of infection.
  • See a doctor to receive the proper medication if you develop a severe allergic reaction.

Preventing spider bites by hobo spiders requires some simple, common sense measures. Vacuum regularly and properly install glue traps.

A final word

As a main rule in spider control, general sanitation and habitat modification, both indoors and outdoors is very important. Here are some other suggestions to prevent spider infestation:

  • Clean up all woodpiles, rocks, trash, compost piles, old boards, and other debris.
  • Wear protective clothing when working around any materials that have been stockpiled for a long time.
  • Keep all garages, cellars, crawl spaces clean and uncluttered.
  • Control of excess moisture is helpful in keeping spiders away from living habitats.
  • Seal the small cracks and crevices from your building.
  • Vacuum up all webs.
  • Eliminate household insects such as cockroaches, bedbugs, ants and others to discourage spider infestations. Left without a prey the spiders will have to hunt somewhere else.

I recommend printing this spider bites guide and keeping it in your survival folder. Chances are you will encounter one of the spiders listed here and is better to be prepared if you get bitten. This spider bites guide covers all you need to know. I advise you to sick medical help when bitten by a dangerous spider.

Stay safe and God Bless!

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