Spider Bite Smarts

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Spider sightings do not phase some, but others, they are running as quick as they can. Although there are many spiders found in NY, the American house spider in the most common in NY. Spiders are beneficial, but many fear spiders and do not want them in and around their home. Read below to learn if spiders bite or sting, reactions to spiders and how to prevent spiders in your home. 

Bite or Sting? There is sometimes confusion between a bite and a sting. Incorrectly, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.


  • Offensive (typically).
  • Venom injected via structures of the mouth (fangs).
  • May result in tissue destruction, allergic reaction, paralysis, and/or death.


  • Defensive (typically).
  • Venom injected via tapered, posterior structure (modified ovipositor or “stinger”).
  • Immediate pain (usually non-fatal); an allergic reaction possible.

Venom composition, potency, and toxicity vary by spider species. For example, hunting spiders have more potent venoms than web-spinning spiders (except for Widow spiders). Only a few spider species can cause injury.

  • Most spiders do not have enough venom.
  • Most toxins are not harmful to humans.
  • Fangs cannot penetrate human skin.
  • It is doubtful that there are any truly “deadly” spiders (bites that can be anticipated to cause deaths in humans).


  • Envenomation of toxic spider compounds may cause skin lesions, systemic illness, neurotoxicity, and potentially death.
  • Venoms are composed of complex proteins and proteolytic enzymes designed to incapacitate and/or initiate digestion of prey.
  • Tarantulas have venom, but barbed, urticating hairs can irritate eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.

Two main clinical syndromes

Bite from a Black Widow spider

  • Sharp pain at bite site.
  • Spider often seen.
  • Severe muscular contractions of large muscles.
  • SLUDGE (salivation, lacrimation or eyes watering, urination, defecation, GI distress, vomiting, and bronchorrhea or excessive mucus).
  • Hypertension, tachycardia, fasciculations (twitching), fever, and diaphoresis (sweating).
  • Usually symptom resolution.
  • Death is rare.

Bite from a Brown Recluse spider

  • Local bite often not noticed or stinging sensation.
  • Spider rarely seen.
  • Severe pain and itching.
  • Possible clear or hemorrhagic vesicle to dark eschar.
  • Eschar sloughs and can have progressive necrosis.
  • In extreme cases, hemolytic anemia or red blood cell destruction, rash, arthalgias (joint pain), fever/chills, nausea/vomiting, and renal failure.
  • Death is rare.

Take the bite out of spiders by taking the spiders out!

  • A sticky situation. Pest monitoring traps are an easy, inexpensive way to monitor and identify spider activity.
  • Hide and seek. Inspect attics, crawlspaces, basements, garages and storage areas.
  • Keep it clean. Clear away spider webbing to differentiate future spider activity.
  • Hunger strike. Reduce food sources by regularly treating perimeter areas for target insects.
  • Professional assistance. Contact a pest professional to assist with getting rid of spiders. 

Spiders are among the most prevalent household pests, crawling their way into two out of three American homes. If your Clifton Park home requires pest control or spider control, it’s best to let an professional exterminator handle the infestation. Thomas Pest Services is your Clifton Park and surrounding area pest control experts offering multiple types of services to effectively control rodent, ant, spider, wildlife and pest infestations. Protect your home, family and heath by contacting us for a no charge consultation today!

By Dr. Stuart Mitchell (source

Tags: spider bites  |  get rid of spiders  |  spider prevention


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