Watch Out for Those Itsy Bitsy S...

Is that spider a helpful housemate or a venomous villain?

The itsy bitsy spiders (and the not so itsy bitsy ones) are soon going to be creepy crawling into your home, trying to find shelter from the cold. “Spider season” starts in the fall, with its height happening in September and October. The weather starts getting colder so they’re trying to seek shelter to protect themselves from it. And where better to do that than inside a warm house? But what do you do if you get bitten by one of these unwelcome house guests? What do you need to do to keep them from coming into your house in the first place?

You may not want to believe it, but spiders are extremely beneficial to our environment— even the poisonous ones. They keep fly and mosquito populations from being overwhelming, so you may want their help around the house. Some spiders, especially long-bodied cellar spiders (also known as the daddy long-legs or granddaddy long-legs), even kill poisonous spiders like black widows, keeping your house safe. In fact, long-bodied cellar spiders are completely harmless to humans, proving to be more beneficial to your home environment than harmful.

While you may not be a catch and release kind of person, you should give some spiders a chance. Take measures to keep them out of the house instead of killing them on site. Luckily, you don’t have to resort to spraying the house down with harmful pesticides to keep spiders at bay. There are a few natural remedies that can help keep your home spider free:

  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE)- DE is a natural pesticide, of sorts. It is composed of natural diatoms and silica which work to dehydrate the bodies of the insects or arachnids that pass through it. It’s also non-toxic, so it’s safe to use around pets and children. Just be sure to buy food grade DE.
  • Certain smells: Spiders dislike the smells of cedar, mint, citrus, and white vinegar. While I don’t recommend mixing all of these smells together, you can definitely take mint or citrus oils and mix them with water, or vinegar and water, and spray along the baseboards, doors, and windows of your home to deter spiders. Placing cedar wood chips outside of your home will also keep spiders and other insects away.
  • A clean house: Spiders like to hide in dark, cluttered places. A dusty home is a spider’s paradise, so vacuum regularly and keep your home cleared of spider webs to make sure your home is less inviting to them.

Spiders come in all different shapes and sizes, but these are the ones you need to keep an eye out for that are most common in this part of the world: black widow, hobo spider, wolf spider, brown recluse, common house spider, grass spider, gray wall jumping spiders, and long bodied cellar spiders. (Maybe include a graphic of these guys)

Each spider has a different level of venom in their bites, making some more dangerous than the others.

Like mentioned before, the long-bodied cellar spider doesn’t bite humans as its mouth is too weak. They are completely harmless.

Jumping spiders, grass spiders, and common house spiders have very little venom in their bites. I bite from one of these fellows is likely to just cause minor pain and swelling. None of these spiders are aggressive and will go out of their way to bite you.

Wolf spiders can be a little bit more aggressive than the spiders mentioned above, and that coupled with their large size is enough to make most people scared of them. Their bite isn’t deadly and causes symptoms similar to the spiders above. The only difference is that the bite of a wolf spider can cause your lymph nodes to swell painfully.

Things start to get a little more serious with the hobo spider. Though not really deadly, the hobo spider’s bite packs a punch. The bite of a hobo spider is painless and numb for at least 15 minutes after the bite, but after those minutes are up the bite begins to swell. By an hour, the bite is red and tender to the touch. By eight hours, the bite is hard and swollen. After 24 hours, the bite will begin to turn black and discharge fluids. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe you have been bitten by one of these spiders.

Always be careful and check your shoes before putting them on, because they are one of the favorite hiding places for the brown recluse. The bite of a brown recluse has very similar symptoms to that of a hobo spider. The differences lie in what the bite looks like and what happens after the first 24 hours. A purple blister resembling a bull’s eye will form around the bite, and if left untreated for too long, the skin around the bite will begin to undergo necrosis (just a fancy way of saying it will start rotting away). Along with the necrosis, someone suffering from a brown recluse bite will also develop fever, chills, and a headache. There is no antidote for a brown recluse bite, but you should seek medical attention immediately after being bitten so that doctors can try to help prevent tissue death.

Last, but certainly not least, is the black widow. Only the female black widows are poisonous, and their bite can be potentially deadly. The bite is virtually painless, but you will be able to see the mark from her fangs on your skin. Symptoms of a black widow bite include muscle cramps, burning and pain at the site of the bite, nausea, headache, numbness, high blood pressure, and increased salivation or sweating. Seek immediate medical attention after being bitten by one of these ladies.

HealthCARE Express is here for you if you’ve suffered from a spider bite. If you can, try to bring the spider that bit you (either dead or alive) with you so we can better determine what spider bit you. Many spiders look pretty similar, but a few subtle differences can be the difference between minor irritation of the skin, or necrosis.