Evolve Medical Clinics have seen all manner of bug bites. This week’s PSA is a quick, down-and-yucky, review of SPIDERS! What does the bite look like? Where do they hide? How to avoid them and what to do if bit.
Although there are a number of different spiders found in Annapolis and surrounding areas, only the Black Widow spider, Brown Recluse and Longlegged Sac spiders require immediate medical attention.
Here are a few quick “fun facts”:
- Spider bites are very rare.
- Most spiders’ fangs are not strong enough to poke through your skin.
- Spiders do not usually bite unless they are trapped or crushed against you.
- Identifying a spider bite is easier if you saw what bit you.
- Look for a small, red, raised bump on the skin which may itch or burn
- Multiple “bites” or more than one “bite” on widely-separated parts of the body suggest it is NOT a spider bite.
- Spider bites are typically just one area.
- Spider bites often take longer to heal than other insect bites
- It is very rare for more than one member of a house to have a bite
- If you experience other symptoms—such as fever, chills, stomach upset, rash, headaches, swelling, anxiety, or swollen lymph glands—speak with your doctor right away.
Black Widow Spider
Black Widows are the most venomous spider in the US. These spiders are identified by the tangled web they weave: literally “erratic” stringy webs (not the nice “Charlotte’s Web”. Females are shiny black with the red “hourglass” pattern on abdomen, while males have red and spots on their abdomen.
And great news–they are here in Annapolis. Evolve Medical reports a confirmed Black Widow bite in the last 3 months. And a recent Detroit Free Press release even reported a Black Widow in someone’s grapes they’d purchased from Walmart.
Shy and nocturnal, they typically hide in sheltered, dimly lit locations such as garages,
dark corners, basements, closets and cluttered areas. In Annapolis, overturned kayaks and canoes and covered portions of boats.
What does the most venomous bite in the US feel like? Initially, it feels like a pinprick, but then pain develops around the affected area, followed by cramping. Sweating, nausea, and vomiting may occur.
Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluses have a dark violin-shaped mark on their head (they are also called Fiddleback Spiders). They build webs in isolated locations, such as woodpiles, though they can be found in closets and attics inside.
When the brown recluse bites, it is often painless. Later, your skin will redden, turn white and blister. The bite of the Brown Recluse causes tissue death and can sometimes progress to an ulcer. The skin reaction is usually painful. These bites can even be deadly (rare).
Longlegged Sac Spiders: Biter!
Longlegged Sac spiders are yellow-green, have a dark stripe on their abdomens, and are a quarter-inch in length. They make their sacs, which are used for cover, in confined areas, often in the corners of ceilings and walls. They do not build webs, but instead hunt their prey, usually small insects. The Longlegged Sac Spider is an invasive species. Also known as Yellow Sac Spider. Longlegged Sac spiders are known to bite and medical attention is recommended if bitten.
Cellar spiders are pale yellow-brown and have very long, skinny legs with small bodies. Their loose, stringy webs are found in the corners of houses, usually in undisturbed spaces, and are used to catch small flying insects; however, if food is scarce, the cellar spider will tap another spider’s web to draw it out and then eat it. Cellar spiders are common in and around houses, but do not bite people.
Funnel Weaver Spider
Funnel Weavers are brownish-yellow in color with dark longitudinal bands, about an inch in length, and have three rows of eyes. They make funnel-like webs on the ground, which they rarely leave. When its prey crosses the web, the Funnel Weaver will jump out and catch it. Also known as Grass Spider.
Wolf spiders are brownish-gray, about an inch in length, nocturnal, and have eyes that are reflective. The female will carry the egg sac, then hatchlings, on her back until they can hunt for themselves. They build tunnels in the soil or under stones or wood. They do not make webs, but instead chase their prey.
According to the National Library of Medicine, though many people are afraid of spiders, they rarely bite people unless threatened and most bites are harmless. Occasionally, spider bites can cause allergic reactions. And bites by the venomous black widow and brown recluse spiders can be very dangerous to people.
If you are bitten by a spider, you may see a reaction similar to that of a bee sting, including redness, pain and swelling at the site.
To treat a spider bite:
- Wash the area well with soap and water
- Apply an ice pack or a wet compress to the area
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine, if needed
- Consider using antihistamines for severe swelling
- Seek medical treatment for small children and adults with severe symptoms