Most Florida spiders are harmless and really good for the environment. They are vital to garden areas around your home, and often consume other pests that damage ornamental plants, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens. In fact, the yellow-orbed weaver (also called a banana spider) is very beneficial as they eat flies, beetles, moths, mosquitos, wasps, and other flying insects.
But two that you need to steer clear of are the black widow and brown recluse spiders. They are two of the most venomous spiders in the world, according to Outdoor Life magazine.
Facts about the black widow spider.
Considered the most venomous spider in North America, black widows feature shiny black bodies with a distinctive, red, hour-glass shaped marking on the underside of their abdomen. In some rare cases, the hour-glass can be orange-yellow. Female black widows are approximately one and one-half inches long, and males are about half that size. Males can also be slightly lighter in color and can have pink or red spots on their backs.
Black widows prefer dark, dry areas and often seek shelter in garages, dense vegetation, barns, porches, and other areas where they can hide and hunt other spiders and insects that get caught in their webs.
Facts about the brown recluse spider.
The brown recluse is the most common and widespread of the brown spiders found in the south and central parts of America. Brown recluse are light brown in color and have a darker brown violin-shaped marking where their head meets their thorax. The violin can vary in intensity due to its age. But perhaps the biggest way to tell a brown recluse might involve giving it a closer look. Unlike any other spider, brown recluses have six eyes instead of eight. Most spiders have eight eyes arranged in rows of four. Recluses have six eyes that are equal in size and arranged in three pairs in a semicircle. Recluses have fine hairs on their bodies, giving them the appearance of velvet. They’re typically between three-eighths of an inch to three-sixteenths of an inch wide.
As their name implies, brown recluse like to hide in secluded places and can be found in closets, under porches, and in cushions in outdoor patio furniture. They can hitch a ride on furnishings from infested houses, and can go for months without eating. Females only need to mate once to produce eggs for a lifetime, so just one female recluse can lead to an infestation. It’s important to be especially diligent in inspecting used furniture before moving it into your home. They can also hide in bedding and clothing. Because brown recluse are nocturnal and shy, the chances of physically seeing one is rare.
What should you do if bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider?
While everyone reacts to a venomous bite a little differently, both spider bites should be considered a valid threat to your health. While most brown recluse bites heal on their own without scarring or need for medical attention, it depends on how much venom was injected when bitten. Brown recluse bites can create a small white blister with jagged edges that goes from red to white to blue, and end up becoming a necrotic lesion, meaning the tissue around the bite dies and begins to decay. The dead tissue must be completely removed, which can lead to a long recovery and scarring.
Female black widows, on the other hand, have venom that is fifteen times stronger than a rattlesnake’s strike. Bites from black widows are rarely fatal, unless they bite someone very young, very old, or very sick, which puts them at greater risk for a severe reaction. Reactions can include nausea, sweating, severe pain in the back or abdomen, muscle aches, and even difficulty breathing. Black widow antivenom can be given in the ER to minimize the effects of a black widow bite.
Don’t try to tackle an infestation on your own.
Both the brown recluse and the black widow can pose serious health risks. If you suspect you have either on your property, Google “pest control near me” to find a local expert who can safely and effectively remove the threat. St. Petersburg, Florida-based Regional Termite and Pest Control offers a quarterly service which includes treating sheltered areas and looking for visible webs in and around a home or business.