image of a black widow spider

Why Do Spiders Bite?

Despite their status as one of the most feared household pests, spiders rarely bite humans. In fact, most species of spiders are harmless. They usually shy away from confrontation and only bite in self-defense.

When Do Spider Bites Happen
As such, most spider bites occur when the pests are cornered, mishandled, or taken by surprise. In rare cases, spiders will bite after mistaking certain parts of the human body, like fingers, for prey.

Common Spider Bites

Although more than 3,000 different species of spiders live in the United States, only about 60 are considered medically significant because of their bite.

These spiders can generally be categorized into one of three groups:

  • Widow spiders
  • Recluse spiders
  • Aggressive house spiders

While recluse spiders and the most notable species of aggressive house spiders live outside the Western Pest service area, widow spiders reside throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.

Black Widow Spiders
The common black widow is the most recognized species of medical importance that lives in our service area. Female black widow spiders in particular are known for the red, hourglass-shaped markings on their abdomens.

They tend to build their webs in the dark corners or crevices of secluded locations such as:

  • Attics
  • Crawlspaces
  • Garages
  • Sheds

If the web is disturbed, the spider will bite. A black widow bite leaves a pair of puncture marks in the skin, which distinguishes it from the bites of other species.

Spider Bite Symptoms

Allergic Reactions
Spider bites can trigger allergic reactions that range in severity from mild to critical. The exact level of severity largely depends on the potency of the spider venom, if any, and the age or physical condition of the bitten person.

Severe Allergic Reactions
Young children, the elderly, and extremely allergic individuals are at highest risk of reacting severely to spider bites inflicted by a species of medical significance. In highly exceptional cases, fatality can occur as a result of asphyxia or anaphylactic shock.

Common Symptoms
However, the most common spider bite symptoms are far less serious and generally include the following mild to moderate reactions:

  • Pain and redness around the bite site
  • Itchiness or the development of a rash or blister
  • Localized swelling
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle pain, cramping, or stiffness

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

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