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Black Widow Spider Bites

Summary: All spider bites contain venom, but the black widow spider bites have more powerful venom than others.

Okay! First thing, let's clear up a common misconception. The black widow female spider rarely consumes the male after mating. This means that all those jokes you have been telling comparing black widow spiders to your wife have got to stop. That said, let's talk turkey. I mean spiders.

Everyone worries about being bitten by certain types of spiders. But, spider bite reactions differ with every person. The severity of an individual's reaction to a black widow spider bite depends on lots of variables. For example, the area of the body bitten can make a difference. ***image5***Bites to areas on the body that provide more direct access to main bloodstreams will naturally cause a faster, more intense reaction. The amount of spider venom injected will certainly be a factor in your reaction. Spiders control the amount of venom they inject and venom volume can vary greatly with each bite.

Of course, an individual's sensitivity to the venom is a major factor. Some people report very intense pain from the bite, while others do not even know they have been bitten. It is not unusual for the black widow spider bite to go unnoticed, but some people report a short stabbing pain. At first, there may be slight swelling on the skin surface and two faint red spots, which are puncture points from the fangs. Pain soon begins and usually progresses from the bite site to the abdomen and back.

Severe cramping or stiffness may occur in the abdominal muscles. Other symptoms may include nausea, profuse perspiration, tremors, labored breathing, restlessness, increased blood pressure, and fever. Symptoms often diminish after a day or so and cease after several days. Serious long-term complications or death is very rare.

  1. If you have been bitten, stay calm. If at all possible, collect the spider so it can be postively identified. Get medical attention immediately.
  2. Clean the bite with soap and water and apply a cool towel or ice pack over the bite. Try to keep the bitten arm or leg elevated to about the level of your heart.
  3. Call your doctor, hospital and/or the Poison Control Center. Apply iodine or hydrogen peroxide to prevent infection. Try to stay quiet and warm.
  4. People at highest risk are the very young, the very old or someone with high blood pressure. Immediate medical treatment can greatly reduce the danger.
  5. For severe reactions, doctors may inject calcium gluconate to counter the effects caused by the spider bite. There are black widow spider anti-venom medications also available. 
  6. Only in the movies does it work to suck out the poison. Don't try it.  It doesn't work.

Now that we've saved your life we can safely ask, why are you putting your hands and/or feet in places where spiders are hiding? Yuck!

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