Can A Black Widow Spider Kill You?

Last Updated: 22.08.19

 

Getting a bug repellent for home is really a normal part of most people’s lives. However, many of them don’t know what the best spider repellent technique is since they don’t have to face spiders as often as, say, ticks or squirrels.

The black widow spider is one of the few venomous species of spiders in the United States, so it makes sense that you should be informed about them. This is especially true considering the fact that they can be found almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere of the world, making them a more than common occurrence.

Many people feel threatened by these spiders, especially considering their reputation as cannibals of the species. In this guide, we thought we’d take a look at how dangerous a black widow spider can be for us so you know what to do if you ever meet one.

 

How Does It Look Like

To protect yourself, you should first know how to recognize this type of spider. Its body is about one and a half inch long, smaller by comparison than a dime. This is the size of the renowned females, as the males are about half this size and lighter in color, with red or pink spots on their back.

Females are more distinctive, sporting shiny black bodies and the trademark red hourglass-shaped marking that is located on the underside of their abdomen. The size difference is regarded as an explanation of why, after mating, females choose to eat their partners thus becoming…widows.

How Does It Feel If You Are Bitten

Even though black widow spiders are vastly considered the most venomous species in North America, the truth is that their bite is rarely fatal to humans. This is ironic, considering that their venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake.

Even if they are highly poisonous, black widows are a shy species that will really only bite when provoked or accidentally touched by somebody. If humans don’t disturb them, they are more than happy to stay out of our way. Contrary to popular belief, it has been demonstrated that most victims do not suffer serious damage.

Furthermore, only the bites of the females are actually regarded as a potential threat to human life, if left untreated. Even if they rarely result in death, frail people can really find themselves at risk. This category includes the very young, the very old, and the very sick.

Their bite will feel like a pinprick to most people, so if you’re not paying attention you might even miss it. Within minutes, you will begin to feel severe pain that will spread rapidly to other parts of the body. More advanced effects really depend on the species, but a wide spectrum will include nausea, severe pain in the abdomen, muscle aches and even paralysis of the diaphragm.

The pain itself will last anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, with the other symptoms potentially going on for a few days. As you can see, while not life-threatening, the effects of a black widow’s bite can be really harmful to your body. Luckily, their antivenom is usually available to help minimize your period of suffering.

 

Applying First Aid

If you ever think or know that you have been bitten, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible to avoid any and all risks related to this. Before that, you can wash the area with soap and water and apply an ice pack to it for 10 minutes at a time, with 10-minute breaks in between.

Try to keep it elevated and still prevent the spreading of venom throughout your body. Remember that after the first half hour the bitten area will also swell and hurt a lot and sometimes you will even get achy all over. This is a result of the poison entering your body, but you should be better once you receive some treatment.

 

Getting To The Doctor

As we said, getting the victim to a trained professional is very important because you never know exactly what kind of effects it will have on the body. Treatment for the bite will vary depending on your health, symptoms and how bad was it.

For instance, you might receive some medication that will help ease your pain, as your chest and abdomen area will really hurt by now due to muscle spasms. Sometimes, the black widow’s bite will also lead to high blood pressure so you could get some pills for that too.

If you find yourself having difficulty breathing, don’t panic, as this is another potential consequence of your meeting with the spider and should go away with proper medication.

If you were unlucky and the bite is more severe, you may even need antivenom or muscle relaxants. Think of antivenom as basically an anti-toxin that is used to help your body fight against the poison. If you were extremely out of luck that day, you may even need to be hospitalized for the moment.

 

So What Causes A Black Widow To Bite?

As we said, black widow spiders are generally shy creatures which would appreciate being left alone. Because of this, they are reclusive and will never seek you out to bite you, instead only using their weapons as a last resort in self-defense or when they feel threatened.

They like to live in dark spots such as piles of leaves, rock, or wood. Considering this, be careful not to disturb this kind of piles without wearing gloves as there’s a good chance you will get bitten. Since they can be found throughout most of the Western world, every piece of debris can hide a potential spider.

 

 

 

Inside the house, you should also wear gloves for protection when you have to move things out of dark corners in your garage or basement, as you may have an unnoticed neighbor. Spiders may also hide in other dark places such as inside your unused shoes or blankets, in the crevices of porch furniture and even between the stones of a rock wall.

To avoid getting bitten, be careful when you are in their dwelling areas. If you are working outside or in the yard, wear gloves so you don’t accidentally get to the hospital. If you have old clothes stored in the attic, make sure to shake them out really well before using them, as they may come with a surprise. If you are cleaning behind furniture, first look carefully behind it.

 

So Yay Or Nay On The Bite?

No, a bite from a black widow spider will generally not kill you and fatalities only happen in a very, very limited number of cases, usually due to a lack of treatment. However, this kind of toothy reminder from them has enough bad consequences to cause you more than enough pain and discomfort, so you should really avoid any interaction altogether.

Avoid their dark dwelling places, don’t provoke them into biting you and don’t torment them. Do this and you probably will not end up in the ER clutching your chest, abdomen, and throat all at the same time.

 

 

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