One of the most widespread phobias across the United States is arachnophobia – the fear of spiders. The vast majority of spiders in the U.S. are harmless to humans and can even be a part of helping to control other pests like mosquitoes and flies. However, there are a few species of spiders that are extremely dangerous to humans and animals. Their bites can pose a serious risk to your health, and in extreme cases, they can even be fatal.
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Common Species of Dangerous Spiders:
- Brown Recluse
These spiders are also called fiddleback or violin spiders in some parts of the United States because of the dark, violin-shaped marking on their bodies. Brown recluse spiders prefer to hide in dark places like attics, cupboards, and woodpiles. If you’re working outside or cleaning out your attic or other storage spaces, be sure to wear gloves and tuck your pants into your shoes to avoid being bitten. In extreme cases, a brown recluse bite can lead to necrosis, a condition where living cells die. In less extreme cases, a brown recluse bite will cause symptoms including fever, nausea, itching, muscle pain, and convulsions. You should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have been bitten by a brown recluse
- Black Widow
Black widows are probably the spider that first comes to your mind when you think of venomous spiders. They have a striking appearance due to their jet-black bodies and a bright red hourglass or striped marking on their abdomen. Female black widows are considered to be the most venomous spider in the United States, and their venom is 15 times more toxic than that of a rattlesnake. However, very few – less than 1% – of people bitten by a black widow die as a result of the bite. Symptoms of a bite typically include hypertension, nausea, abdominal pain, and paralysis of the diaphragm that causes difficulty breathing. You’re most likely to find black widows nesting in covered, dark places like mailboxes and underneath outdoor furniture. They typically keep to themselves but will become aggressive when threatened.
- Hobo Spider
Hobo spiders appear in various shades of brown and are particularly hard to identify due to the fact that they so closely resemble so many other species of spiders, including the brown recluse. Because of this, the effects of a hobo spider bite have not been conclusively confirmed. Hobo spider bites were at one time thought to cause necrosis, but this could very well be due to misidentifying brown recluse spiders as hobo spiders. However, if you suspect you’ve been bitten by a hobo spider, it’s still always best to seek immediate medical attention. Hobo spiders are most prevalent in the Pacific Northwest United States and typically prefer to hide away in damp, dark places like basements, garages, and crawl spaces.
How to Avoid Spider Bites & Infestations:
- Shake out your shoes – especially boots – before putting them on.
- Clean out your gutters regularly.
- Cut back trees and bushes so that their branches aren’t touching your house.
- Move your bed away from the walls and make sure your curtains aren’t touching your bed.
- Get rid of bed skirts, especially those that touch the floor.
- Shake out any clothes or linens that have been on the floor and inspect them thoroughly before use.
- Get rid of clutter, especially paper and cardboard boxes.
- Store your off-season clothing in sealed plastic bags and store your shoes in sealed plastic boxes.