Bitten By a Venomous Spider? Brown Recluse and Black Widow Explained

Texas’s climate provides the perfect home for a lot of creepy crawlers, including spiders. Most of them are harmless, but Texas has two species of venomous spiders that can be dangerous, especially if they bite a young child or older adult. The brown recluse spider and the black widow spider aren’t necessarily aggressive, but they will bite if they are disturbed or feel threatened. As a precaution, let’s learn how to identify them and their bites.

What Do Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spiders Look Like?

Brown Recluse: Brown recluse spiders typically hide out in dark, quiet areas like garages and basements. They range from ¼ quarter of an inch to 3/4 quarters of an inch in size. They are typically golden brown but can range from a whitish color to dark brown or dark gray. You can identify brown recluses by a dark, violin-shaped pattern on their head.

Black Widow: The female black widow is jet black with a yellowish or reddish hourglass shape under a globe-like abdomen. They are also found in undisturbed areas, but mainly outdoors in woodpiles, eaves, and meter boxes.

What Are the Symptoms of a Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spider Bite?

Brown Recluse venom contains necrotizing enzymes that generally cause local and systemic reactions. Watch for chills, fever, nausea, weakness, and a lesion or necrosis at the bite site.

Black Widow venom contains neurotoxins that are fifteen times stronger than the venom of a prairie rattlesnake. Bites can cause severe reactions, including death, though this is uncommon. Symptoms include abdominal cramping, abdominal rigidity, convulsions, headache, nausea, pain, sweating, vomiting, and passing out.

What to Do for Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spider Bites

For mild cases, wash the bite off with soap and contact your family physician or the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-POISON-1 (1-800-764-7661) for help with first aid treatment. If someone is showing more severe symptoms, take them immediately to an emergency room. The ER is equipped to provide steroids, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers to ease the symptoms of a venomous spider bite. A doctor may administer antivenom for bites contingent on the patient’s medical history.

Worried about other substances that can harm small children? Read our blog Accidental Poisoning: Tips from Emergency Room Doctors Control. To stay in the know about the latest health care topics, follow Hospitality Health ER on Facebook or visit our blog weekly for new information.