How to Recognize Dangerous Spider Bites

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Invading a spider's home may make it feel threatened enough to bite.
Invading a spider's home may make it feel threatened enough to bite. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

There are more than 100,000 species of spiders in the world, but only two species in the United States are venomous to humans. The bites of the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse can be dangerous; however, they rarely bite humans unless provoked. Non-venomous spider bites may produce symptoms similar to that of a harmless bee sting. Venomous spider bites are most dangerous for young children or those who are sensitive to insect bites. Recognizing a dangerous spider bite and seeking medical attention can help the victim avoid further damage to the body.

Identify the bite most accurately by capturing the spider that inflicted the bite. Take the spider to the doctor's office or emergency room. Even a smashed spider can likely be identified by a doctor. A Black Widow spider is an estimated 8 to 10 millimeters long and has a red, hour- glass-shaped mark on her abdomen. The Brown Recluse is light brown, has a violin-shaped mark on its back and is also about 8 to 10 millimeters long with a 1-inch leg span.

Analyze your symptoms if you were unable to capture the spider. The symptoms of a Black Widow bite show up in about 30 minutes to two hours after the bite. Possible symptoms include severe back pain, muscle cramps, nausea, sweating, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, restlessness and a rigid sensation in the abdomen. Fatalities from a Black Widow spider bite are very rare.

Look for several red rings around white areas and a white blister in the center to identify a Brown Recluse bite. Initial symptoms may include itching, redness, tingling and pain at the site. After 12 to 24 hours, symptoms may include fever, chills, headache and upset stomach. Without treatment a Brown Recluse bite could result in dead tissue and kidney failure.

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