While many people have an instinctive or learned fear of spiders, it’s important to remember that most of them cannot hurt you and that, in fact, spiders are generally very beneficial to the environment and to your home. They eat insects like mosquitoes that carry disease and keep other annoying pest populations down. Spiders are very sensitive to vibrations, and for the most part, will run and hide when you run across them. The old saying is very true – they’re more scared of you than you are of them.
However, in the Ozark area – that is the area where Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma meet – there are two species of spiders that are considered dangerous or “medically significant.” the female black widow and the brown recluse are both venomous and bites require immediate medical attention.
The Brown Recluse
The brown recluse, or Loxosceles reclusa if you’re feeling formal, is commonly found throughout the Ozark area and further into Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. It is called the “brown recluse” because it is brown in color and prefers to live in dark, undisturbed areas. The easiest way to identify a brown recluse is by the distinct, white violin-shaped mark on its carapace (back).
The venom from a brown recluse is necrotic and can cause flesh to rot and die. But, luckily, bites from a brown recluse are very rare. They are an incredibly shy species and most bites occur when you don the clothing or shoes they happen to be hiding in and they feel threatened. In addition, remember that brown recluses are very small which means they deliver a very small amount of venom. Only 10% of brown recluse bites are considered “medically significant.” The other 90% heal on their own.
There are some exceptions, however. If a small child or someone with a compromised immune system is bitten, you will want to take them to the hospital immediately. Adults can pretty easily fight off brown recluse venom, but smaller and frailer bodies may have a more difficult time and suffer the worse symptoms. If you stepped in a nest or were somehow bitten several times by a brown recluse, you should also seek immediate medical attention. The larger the dose of venom, the more likely the consequences will be medically significant.
If you suspect you have a brown recluse infestation, contact a spider control specialist as soon as possible. While one brown recluse is pretty harmless, a large number of them could be incredibly hazardous to your and your family’s health.
The Black Widow
The black widow – scientific name latrodectus mactans – is actually a group of several species of spiders. While they can range in size and habits, black widows are universally identified by their pure black coloring and the red hourglass pattern on their abdomen. However, it’s important to note that some black widows have a red dot, a red stripe, or no red marking at all on their abdomen instead due to general variation and gene mutations. Black widows build loose, messy looking webs that have been likened to a tangled ball of string.
It’s only the female black widows (hence the name) that are venomous. They tend to build their webs in sheltered, dark places like attics and barn or shed corners because they prefer to remain undisturbed. Black widows are not naturally aggressive, although they may bite if they feel threatened. Black widow bites are extremely painful and the venom can cause very unpleasant symptoms like muscle spasms and nerve pain. But no one has ever died from a North American black widow bite. If you are bitten, seek medical attention regardless to avoid lasting nerve or muscle damage.
Still, if you see a black widow or suspect you may have more lurking in your home, contact a spider control specialist as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about a spider infestation or you think you may need spider control services in the Arkansas, Oklahoma, or Missouri area, contact West Termite, Pest, & Lawn. We’ll send a technician over immediately to give you a quote and start the extermination process.