Winter time, and cold seasons in general, are the times we need to worry about spiders in our homes the most. Spiders tend to migrate indoors as the seasons change from warm to cool, and will look for damp, warm, dark places to stake claim and try to survive the winter. Many are harmless, but some are dangerous, and others yet outright toxic and deadly. What is America’s deadliest spider, and could it be in YOUR house?
Not surprisingly, the most deadly spider in America is the Black Widow spider. Many people are aware of this large abdomen-ed, long-limbed black spider with the red hourglass on its underbelly and know to stay away. Unfortunately, this common spider is well-known for a reason- it’s known to live in all states except for Alaska (maybe i should move back to Anchorage?), and likes damp, dark areas like abandoned boxes in the yard, wood piles, underneath your home, or in your sprinkler pumps or in your basement areas.
I found a black widow once in a box of dog crap I was dumping into a garbage bag, and on another occasion I saw one skittering across a grocery store aisle (it was caught and confirmed by my Aunt, red hourglass for all to see). Sitting around a campfire this summer a black widow climbed out of my boot and up my leg, where I freaked the mother lovin’ out, and my fiance flicked it off my leg. My fiance found a black widow in a sprinkler clock in a client’s garage. These small (less than a dime) critters tend to stick to themselves, but when they are discovered they can be a real fright.
How potent is a black widow spider’s bite? 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake bite, and far more dangerous than that of a brown recluse, another fearful spider. You’ll know when you get bit, as you will feel a prick at first and within minutes you will feel an intense, excruciating pain where a black widow has punctured you. Since black widow spider venom is a neurotoxin, it kills by stopping the heart, and left untreated (or not treated quickly) you will quickly notice chest constriction and difficulty breathing, and may even begin losing control of your face as it contorts due to the toxins in the spider’s nasty bite. You may also notice headache, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting or sweating.
Luckily, while the black widow’s bite is dangerous and painful, it rarely kills humans when treated quickly. If you feel you have been bitten, it may take up to 30 minutes to feel pain, so you need to act quickly, even if you aren’t sure. Apply an icepack to the wound and try to elevate the bitten area to try to keep the toxin from spreading. Immediately get to the hospital (taking the spider with you if you can in a jar or smashed where you can still recognize it) so you can get “antivenin” a medication used to combat the spider’s bite.
To keep black widows from your home (or at least best prevent being bitten), keep wood piles and empty containers away from your home, properly caulk and put good siding on your house, don’t put on shoes or gloves kept outside or in garages without checking them first, and always be careful around leaf piles, blankets that have been stored in garages, basements, or attics, or even from a closet if they have been left alone for a long time. Just keep your eye out, and you should be safe even if there is a black widow in your territory.
Dr. Oz Show