Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders can be identified by their shiny black color and the red or orange hour-glass marking on their underside. They carry potent venom that is deadly to the insects on which they prey. These bashful spiders try to avoid people, but they will bite in self-defense. A bite from a black widow spider injects relatively little venom into a human. Most humans suffer little more from a black widow bite than from most other biting insects, unless an underlying complicating factor such as extreme youth or old age contributes to susceptibility. Symptoms of a more severe reaction include severe cramps, weakness and increased blood pressure as well as strong allergic symptoms such as itching, headache and nausea.
The brown spider, a California spider related to the brown recluse, follows the black widow’s habit of seclusion. According to University of California, Davis, the brown spider prefers dry, quiet places. Its cousin, the brown recluse, does not occur naturally in California.
Several varieties of large, hairy spiders may be misidentified as tarantulas, including the wolf spider. Tarantulas appear quite fierce, but seldom present a danger to humans, beyond a painful bite. They prefer warm, dry areas and tend to stay in their underground burrows unless disturbed.
A spider bite victim typically finds a single small bite. The bite may resemble a target with a white center surrounded by a red ring. The California Poison Control System recommends washing a suspected bite with soap and water. Should muscle spasms or severe pain develop, seek medical attention. Small children, elderly adults and those already weakened by other illness may be more heavily affected by a bite and require hospitalization. Occasionally a bite becomes infected and results in deterioration of the surrounding tissue. The victim might require wound care. Medical personnel usually treat symptoms following a spider bite rather than administering an antivenin, according to the California Poison Control System.
Spiders seldom attack unless provoked or trapped without an escape route. Allow the spider to flee. Don’t reach into dark or hidden areas. A spider might have taken up residence, especially if the space doesn’t receive frequent traffic. Pay attention when walking outside because most of the spiders dangerous to humans prefer an outdoor habitat. Check surfaces before sitting down. Shake out shoes or garments that haven’t been worn recently before donning them.