Although it's understandable to be anxious about venomous spiders, it’s important to know the difference between a harmless spider and a dangerous one.
Here are some important tips from experts on dealing with venomous spiders and what to do if you think you’ve been bit.
Identify types of venomous spiders
Even if you think you've been bitten by a spider, most are actually harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Only a few types have venom strong enough to harm you and fangs (yikes!) long enough to penetrate your skin.
Venomous spiders found in the Southeast include:
Black widow – identified by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of its abdomen.
Brown widow – identified by an orange hourglass shape on a brown body
Brown recluse – identified by its brown color and dark violin-shaped marking on its head.
(Identifications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UGA Extension)
Wear gloves when you're working outside or in the garage
If you stick your bare hand into some brush, you may be bitten by a brown or black widow. Although they usually try to avoid people, they don't have a choice if you accidentally wrap your hand around one, according to UGA Extension. Be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves when you're cleaning in the garage, clearing brush or pulling a log off a woodpile.
Look out for your clothes and shoes
Black and brown widows can also hide in clothes and shoes that have been left outside, UGA Extension advised. The best solution is to not leave these items outside (or in your garage) if you can possibly avoid it, and, if not, make sure you shake them out and check them carefully before putting them on.
Use insect repellent
The Mayo Clinic recommends using an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes and shoes.
Don't create a habitat your home
Don't store firewood against your house, since it can serve as a haven for spiders who can then find their way inside. The same is true for piles of rocks or lumber near your home.
Clean up spider webs
If you see a spider web inside your home, vacuum it up, put it in a sealed bag and dispose of it outside.
Make it harder for spiders to get inside your home
Make sure you have screens on your windows and doors that fit tightly. Seal any cracks where spiders could work their way into your home.
Recognize the signs of a bite
Many spider bites go unnoticed or cause only an itchy bump. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you may have been bitten by a venomous spider and should seek medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Pain – starting around the bite mark and possibly spreading to the abdomen, back or chest
- Abdominal cramping – can be severe
- Excessive sweating
- Body aches
- Skin that becomes dark blue or purple and develops into a deep open sore