Entomologist offers tips to avoid two spiders this summer - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Entomologist offers tips to avoid two spiders this summer

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Courtesy: Creighton University - Western Black Widow Courtesy: Creighton University - Western Black Widow
Courtesy: Creighton University - Brown Recluse Courtesy: Creighton University - Brown Recluse
OMAHA, Neb. (KTIV) -

Creighton University Entomologist Dr. Theodore Burk said there are two dangerous spiders you should stay away from this summer.

The Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus) and the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa).

Dr. Burk said the Western Black Widow has a distinctive black, shiny appearance with a red hourglass shape on the bottom of its over-sized abdomen and grows to be about the size of a penny.

Dr. Burk said the Brown Recluse is identified by a dark violin shape on the top of its cephalothorax and can grow to be the size of a quarter. “Both of these spiders can and will bite if disturbed,” said Dr. Burk.

The main cause for concern is that bites from either of the two can have severe consequences. The Western Black Widow injects into its victims a neurotoxin, which causes inflammation, some skin death and itching around the bite area. The Brown Recluse, however, injects a necrotic poison that destroys tissue, causing an ulcerous, raw-looking area in and around the bite site, according to Dr. Burk.

Both species can be found outside in places like wood piles, under stones, in shrubs or in grassy areas. Most people, according to Burk, encounter them in their houses, garages, basements, or in cluttered areas that haven’t been disturbed for long periods of time.                

Dr. Burk offers these tips to avoid coming in contact with either species and what to do if bitten:

1. Wear gloves when working in the garden or around brush or wood piles, as spiders favor dark, secluded areas.

2. Sweep around boxes or objects that haven’t been moved for a while in basement or garage areas.

3. Wear shoes that cover the entire foot when in grassy areas.

4. Do not swat at or try to capture either spider, as doing that may trigger a defensive bite reaction.

5. Shake clothing out after working outdoors, as spiders have been known to hide inside clothing. 

6. Avoid scratching the bite site, as it could become infected with staphylococcus.

Seek immediate medical attention if the bite feels hot, develops significant blistering or the skin becomes discolored. Spider bites also can cause significant rash areas around the entire body.

Dr. Burk also notes that bites from the Western Black Widow or Brown Recluse can be much more dangerous to children because they’re smaller and the dose is correspondingly worse. The elderly also may be more susceptible to complications caused by the neurotoxin of the Western Black Widow. In rare cases, symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, joint stiffness and headache may accompany a bite, added Burk.

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