Lasted updated 01/09/2021
We may often call creepy crawly pest bugs but the arachnid family is not an insect. This is because they have two segments to their body, eight legs, have no wings or have antennae and are not able to chew. The arachnid family includes; spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks.
Maybe it’s just the fact that they can appear out of nowhere at the end of their web, dangling in the air. And they add to the suspense in horror movies, people tend to have a fear of spiders.
About the Spider
Spiders have many eyes (yes creepy). The eight legged creature (insects typically have six) have jointed legs. Body segments come in abdomen, the cephalo thorax (combined head and thorax).
They are meat eaters (carnivores) catching their food in those silky webs that now and then we may bump into.
Most spider bites are not toxic. The spider has fangs to inject venom designed for smaller animals. Spiders do not suck blood therefore they have no need to bite humans. In fact many aren’t capable of piercing our skin. (Most spider bites are actually MRSA).
They feel vibrations and with intruders most rather flee than fight. They will bite to defend themselves, their eggs, or unintentionally from surprise having been trapped or something alerts them near the web.
They may tend to crawl in spaces like shoes, gloves or flower pots. Tiny crevasses where they can hide.
There are two spiders to avoid in North America; Black Widow and Brown Recluse.
Black Widow Spider
You can identify the black widow by the red hourglass on the bottom half of her round body.
Black widows are found in US and parts of Canada through Latin America and the West Indies. They make homes in woodpiles, garages, sheds or plants to support the web.
Because the black widow’s bite may feel like a pinprick it could go unnoticed. At first it may be a small red spot and swollen than growing larger. The area may include intense pain and muscle contractions due to the bite coming in contact with nerves in muscles.
A black widow bite may require a prescription to ease pain and relax your muscles. The anti-venom is rarely used due to some having serious reactions. This is saved for bites affecting children, elderly or those with concerning health conditions.
Brown Recluse (AKA Violin Spider)
The brown recluse has six eyes unlike other spiders; two on front, and two on each side. Mainly found in central and southern US areas.
They hide deep indoors in your basement or attic. They may live in caves, rodent burrows and areas where they feel protected.
It may start as a small red bump. When bitten you may feel a bit of a sting but over eight hours it becomes more painful. The bite is similar to a small white blister with a red border, like a bull’s eye. A doctor should be seen. The middle of the bite may turn blue or purple and develop an open sore.
The venom of the brown recluse spider will destroy blood vessel walls near the bite, at times this will become a large skin ulcer. This may take several months to heal.
With the brown recluse special caution should be taken to prevent infection. Your doctor may suggest antihistamines or cream to relieve swelling and the itch. An open sore needs to be cleaned daily and use antibiotic cream. Be watchful for symptoms like fever, chills, rash and stomach upset and contact your doctor if this occurs.
A tarantula has a bite that may hurt for a week. It’s hard to mistake their big hairy appearance and they are brown and black in color. In the US they are mostly found in the southwest.
At its worst the bite might be red and warm. There are types that also flick fine barbed hairs that come from their belly. When these stick in the skin, the result could be itching, swelling and irritation.
False Black Widow
Resembling a black widow minus the red hourglass marking, color ranges from purplish-brown to black. They are found in homes along Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts.
Pain from the bite in the first hour can get worse and it may have blisters bordering. Other symptoms may be headache and stomach upset that passes after a couple days.
At one time thought to be very dangerous similar to brown recluse but research from the past 15 years says they are pretty harmless. . They can be found along the Pacific Northwest and they are usually marked with a light strip down center of body. Their bite will cause some redness, mildly painful and maybe a little swelling.
Brazilian Wandering Spider (AKA Banana Spider)
Brazilian Wandering Spider is often found on banana leaves. They are aggressive and will raise their front legs straight up in the air in defense.
Probably, the most painful spider bite, it is quick to cause heavy sweating and drooling. Their venom is toxic attacking the nervous system.
Treating Spider Bites
- Clean area with soap and water
- Apply antibiotic cream
- Either apply cold, wet cloth or wrap cloth around ice
- If the bite is on your arm or leg, raise it
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken for pain
- An antihistamine may help with swelling
If the bite becomes worse or infected, see your doctor right away. Serious symptoms to check are stomach pain, cramps, throwing up or difficulty breathing. Also, if there is an open sore or a mark resembling a bull’s eye, pain around the bite or the red area is growing, see your doctor. If possible, safely retrieve the spider and take along, even if it is dead. It helps in identifying.
It is uncommon but people can be allergic to spider bites. Be on the lookout for;
- Swelling of the face or mouth
- Difficulty talking or swallowing
- Having a tightness in the chest
- Problems breathing
These need medical attention right away.
Prevention of a Spider Bite
To prevent a spider bite wear long sleeves, a hat and tuck pants legs inside your socks when by woodpiles, sheds, attics and garage. Make a habit of shaking things out like work gloves, boots and clothes that have been sitting for some time. These are places where spiders could hide.
Rock, lumber or firewood should be stored away from house. Indoors, storing items under the bed should be avoided. A space should be between bed and wall.
Chiggers (AKA Berry Bugs or Red Bugs)
Chiggers are actually a type of immature mite but belong in this family. They are very tiny and almost impossible to spot. They feed on skin cells and tissue. A chigger’s saliva can leave a nasty reaction on your skin. Bites appear as a cluster of red welts in hot and sweaty areas.
The chigger larvae are parasitic and look for a host to attach to. It will attach to the skin. Body fluids from the host are withdrawn through a feeding tube. The larva feed around four days and then fall off. The next stage they molt becoming nonparasitic nymphs and adults. A chigger has a life cycle span around 50 days.
A chigger bite develops a reddish welt during the first 24 hours this is in reaction to the saliva. It can present an intense itch which can last for a week or longer if not treated.
Usually bites are found on ankles, waistline, armpits and where clothing is tight against skin. Scratching the bite can lead to infection or possibly a fever. In North America they are not known to carry disease.
A type has been known to cause scrub typhus. This is life-threatening. They are found in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India and Northern Australia. Recent studies have found cases in Chile.
People traveling to these areas may become infected and should practice prevention. Your doctor may take a blood test if you have been exposed or traveled to these countries.
Chigger Symptoms and Treatment
The symptoms include rash, headache, and high fever and muscle pain. Oral doxycycline can be used to treat.
To treat bites, calamine cream can be applied on the area to reduce the itching. Taking Benadryl or Zyrtec orally or will also help with the itching.
Prevention of Chigger Bite
Prevention would be avoiding tall grass, overgrowth areas and brush where they like to live in the shade with high humidity.
Tick repellant may be used on clothes if walking through infested areas, read the label for directions.
About the Scorpion
Scorpions are predatory having eight legs and a pair of grasping claws. Their tail is narrow and segmented usually carried forward over the back, having a venomous stinger.
A scorpion life cycle covers three stages; the egg begins living inside the mother, the nymph to the adult. They can live for 3-8 years.
While in the nymph stage they molt up to six times before turning into a full adult. As an adult they can hunt, mate and reproduce.
Their diet consists of; insects, spiders, centipedes and they even will eat other scorpions.
When a scorpion stings the stinger attached to the tail releases venom. The venom contains toxins that affect our nervous system. Scorpions are nocturnal creatures that sting when provoked or attacked.
Scorpions have painful stings that are rarely life threatening. There is a serious risk of complications to the young child or older adult if stung.
In the US scorpions live mostly in the southwest desert, mainly Arizona, New Mexico, and areas of California. Other countries would be Mexico, North Africa, South America, the Middle East and India.
Arizona Bark Scorpion
In the US, (there is also the Stripebacked) the Bark Scorpion has venom strong enough to cause severe symptoms. This species is found mostly in the southwest desert.
The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous in North America; it is scary that they are often found inside homes. Being stung causes acute pain and can be frothing at the mouth, difficulty breathing and muscles convulsions. Ones limbs may be immobilized. Rarely is the venom fatal but it packs a punch lasting for as long as 72 very painful hours.
There are about 30 species in the world that have a venom toxic enough to be fatal.
Scorpion Sting Symptoms;
- Pain, can be intense
- Numbing and tingling
- Some swelling
Venom usually affecting children stung;
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscles that twitch or thrash
- Unusual head, neck and eye movements
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Accelerated heart rate (tachycardia)
- Excitable or restless
- Inconsolable crying
Treatment for Scorpion Sting
- Clean the wound with mild soap and water
- Apply cool compress to the affected area
- Over-the-counter (NSAIDs): can help with pain, reduce inflammation and fever.
In case of severe symptoms, anti-venom is administered.
Celecoxib • Indomethacin
Prevention for Scorpion Stings
Rock, lumber or firewood should be stored away from house. Keep grass mowed; prune bushes and overhanging tree branches, scorpions can travel on.
Fill cracks in foundation with caulk, weather-strip doors and windows and repair torn screens.
When traveling to areas common for deadly scorpions, especially when camping or staying in rustic accommodations; wear shoes and shake out clothing, bedding and other items where they can hide.
Have you had a bad reaction to a bite?
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If you have a health condition or concern, please consult your doctor.
https://www.livescience.com/37974-he-surprising-cause-of-most-spider-bites. Accessed 08/26/2020
https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/ss/slideshow-spider-bites accessed 08/26/2020
https://www.healthline.com/health/scorpion-sting accessed 08/26/2020