Most spiders you find in the US are harmless. However, the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider are two types of spiders that don’t fall under this category. Both of these spider types are common in dry and warm climates, such as the southern United States.
Within these regions, you can expect to find the black widow spider and brown recluse spider in environments that are typically undisturbed. This includes wood piles, sinks, attics, closets, and basements.
Given that these pesky creatures can be extremely dangerous, it’s vital to understand the difference between the two and what you should do if you are bitten by either a black widow spider or a brown recluse spider. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know.
What Is a Black Widow Spider?
Black widow spiders have received this famous name because it’s believed that the female spider kills the male once they have mated. There are five different species of the black widow spider in the US. The most common are the northern black widow and the southern back widow. All of these species are medium-sized and grow up to half an inch long.
The Southern Black Widow Spider
This type of black widow spider can be identified for its black, shiny, and globular abdomen. Additionally, this black widow spider also boasts a distinctive red hourglass shape that’s present on its underside.
The Northern Black Widow Spider
Unlike the southern black widow spider, the northern black widow spider doesn’t have a red hourglass present on its stomach. However, it can be easily identified through the row of red, yellow, or white spots appearing down the middle of its abdomen’s upper surface. Additionally, these spots can also be found in the two crosswise bars present on the undersurface. This northern black widow spider also has red or brown legs.
What Are the Dangers of a Black Widow Spider?
A black widow spider’s bite is severely dangerous because it’s known to affect an individual’s nervous system. Black widow spiders produce an extremely potent neurotoxin protein, which might cause a minimal reaction in some individuals while others may suffer a severe response to this chemical.
What Is a Brown Recluse Spider?
Brown recluse spiders are native to the US Southeast and Midwest. Spotting these creatures outside of such regions is incredibly rare. However, you might spot a spider that resembles a brown recluse as there are 13 other species of arachnid present in the same family. This leads to many species being falsely identified as the brown recluse.
In most instances, a brown recluse spider is identified by the violin pattern commonly found on the back of the spider’s cephalothorax. This is the part of the body where the spider’s legs attach. These brown recluse spiders are non-hairy and have one-inch legs while taking on a yellow-tan to dark brown coloring.
It’s widely known that spiders have eight legs. However, the brown recluse only has six because it belongs to the genus Loxosceles. Nonetheless, this feature is typically too small for individuals to see without a magnifying lens.
What Are the Dangers of a Brown Recluse Spider?
The venom from a brown recluse spider bite is known for being more potent than the venom from a rattlesnake. Additionally, this potent venom is toxic to tissues and cells. Nonetheless, brown recluse bites cause less damage than bites from rattlesnakes because smaller quantities of poison are released when biting a victim.
What Are the Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite?
Symptoms arising from a black widow spider bite typically begin within an hour of initially being bitten. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Severe muscle cramps
In addition to these common symptoms, individuals might experience these effects in more severe cases:
- Chest pain
- Respiratory difficulties
What Are the Symptoms of a Brown Recluse Spider Bite?
Brown recluse spider bites might go unnoticed in the beginning and are typically painless. Some individuals might begin noticing minor stinging that’s similar to a bee sting. Symptoms arising from a brown recluse spider bite typically develop within eight hours of initially being bitten. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Severe itching
- Severe pain present at the bite site
What Should You Do If You’re Bitten by a Black Widow Spider or Brown Recluse Spider?
If you suspect that you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider or a black widow spider, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately. However, there are other steps that you should also take if you’ve been bitten.
One of the first things you should do is wash the bite with water and soap while removing any jewelry that you might be wearing. Swelling might occur from these bites, which can make it difficult to remove this jewelry.
Once you have done this, it would be beneficial to apply cool compresses while taking diphenhydramine tablets of around 25- to 50- mg every six hours. This medication helps with any itching you might experience.
If you’re experiencing any pain from this spider bite, you should take acetaminophen. You can take one or two tablets every four hours. You should avoid taking naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. You might require stronger pain medications, as the pain from a black widow spider bite might be extremely severe.
It’s also important to remember that antibiotics aren’t going to be beneficial unless secondary infection forms. You also should avoid applying suction or cutting the wound. Additionally, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Wrapping It Up
You should seek immediate medical care if you believe that you’ve been bitten by a black widow spider or brown recluse spider. In early cases, medications can treat brown recluse bites while anti-venom therapy is available for those who have suffered a black widow bite. Consulting your doctor about your various treatment plans and medications is the best step forward.
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