Bit by unidentifiable spider

Bit by unidentifiable spider

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Live in South Florida and was outside cleaning and believe I got bit by this spider.

It is painful and need help identifying.

The only North American spider species of concern are the black widow (Latrodectus mactans) and brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). Unfortunately, these both occur in south Florida - but so do many other spiders.

I'm guessing the spider that bit you wasn't one of these two, for the following reasons:

  • Black widows are widely identifiable by the general public, and you'd likely have recognized that by the highly characteristic red hourglass on black.
  • Black widow bites hurt a lot. It takes an hour or so for the pain to really set in, but you'd know it was a serious problem.
  • Brown recluse bites are rare, despite their wide range, and tend to happen indoors.

If you were bitten by anything else, the odds are incredibly high that the worst you'll deal with is a little red bump of irritation that goes away shortly.

Bit by unidentifiable spider - Biology

To confirm a diagnosis as even a possible recluse bite, the presence of the spider in the area frequented by the victim must be established. For certainty, the spider suspected of causing the bite should be killed and brought to the doctor with the victim. Often, this is not possible, but where there is one spider, generally there are more and it should not be difficult to capture some by placing a few sticky traps in the area. If traps do not produce any brown recluses (we can confirm an identification for you -- see "Mailing Spiders"), or you live outside of the normal range of the brown recluse, it is extremely unlikely your condition is the result of a brown recluse bite. You and your doctor should seriously consider other possible causes so you can get proper treatment. Some other causes of dermonecrosis can be very serious medical conditions that will require specific treatment to cure. One of the more common causes of dermonecrosis is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is resistant to common antibiotics. A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Moran et al.) reports that nearly 30% of patients later documented to have MRSA initially reported that they suspected a spider bite. For a detailed discussion of this issue and other possible causes of dermonecrotic wounds, please follow the link below.

Other Causes of Dermonecrotic Wounds ("rotting flesh")

Read more about other possible causes of dermonecrosis (not caused by spider bite):

Brown Recluse Spider

Description: Light brown or tan spiders with a slender body and long legs. Cephalothorax (front section of body with head) with a dark brown, violin-shaped marking on top. 6 eyes in three groups of two. Most similar in appearance to the cellar spider or daddy long-legs, but brown recluse spiders are not as slender, and legs not as long. Almost identical in appearance to the Apache recluse spider, but larger and darker brown color.

Geographic Distribution: The brown recluse spider is known to occur in eastern New Mexico, along the Pecos river valley and east to Texas.

Habitats: In buildings and under objects outdoors. Webs are usually located on or near the ground or floors, in dark quiet, undisturbed locations.

Biology: Adults may be found year-round, but especially during the late summer months. Recluse spiders construct small simple, relatively sheet-like webs with retreats into cracks or cavities. They generally stay with their webs, but adult males wander in search of females in late summer.

Health/pest Status: Brown recluse bites are rare, but the venom is dangerous. Bites usually result in skin lesions that do not heal for long periods of time. Secondary bacterial infections are another threat to bite lesions.

What It's Like to Get Stung by the World's Most Painful Insect

An entomologist explains why getting bitten by a bullet ant is something you never want to experience.

Dr. Justin Schmidt, an entomologist and research director of the Southwest Biological Institute, knows pain. In fact, he invented the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which categorizes the level of pain felt when stung by hymenoptera, an order of insects that includes wasps, bees, and ants. The good doctor took some time out of his busy day wrangling animals to talk about his first encounter with the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk wasp &mdash the only two animals to reach SSPI's highest level, and members of our 25 Toughest Animals list&mdashand just how it felt to feel their wrath.

Books are filled with tales of the ants being used as part of puberty rites deep in the Amazon rainforest, but all of it was anecdotal from the early 20th century. I knew that the literature abounded with horror stories about what the bullet ant did, but I had never seen one. So you can imagine the excitement I had when the ants were finally right there in front of me during a trip to Brazil some time ago.

I had a big jar in my collecting bag and I was trying to pick them up with 12-inch long forceps, a great big monster tool, but the ants were sticky, which surprised me, because big ants are usually clumsy and don't climb very well. Bullet ants are agile in spite of being huge&ndashup to an inch&ndashand their feet can stick to just about anything. They were getting riled up by all the movement and were working their way up the forceps to where I was. They seemed to know that the forceps were not the real target, that whatever was at the top was the goal. I was multi-tasking, looking around on the ground to make sure I wasn't getting outflanked by any ants. Sooner or later, I goofed. One of them got up the foreceps and stung me on my finger.

That really shuts you down. It really felt like a bullet. It was instantaneous, almost even before it stung me. It was absolutely riveting. There were huge waves and crescendos of burning pain&mdasha tsunami of pain coming out of my finger. The tsunami would crash as they do on the beach, then recede a little bit, then crash again. It wasn't just two or three of these waves. It continued for around 12 hours. Crash. Recede. Crash. It was absolutely excruciating. There wasn't much I could do except be aware of it and groan. But I didn't lose the ant. I was dedicated enough that I got it into the jar.

The pain radiated out from the finger. I'd hold my arm out and the one that got stung was shaking and trembling. No matter what I tried to do to stop the shaking, it didn't work. That told me that the sting and the pain did have a systemic effect, although it's localized. It doesn't affect your heart or lungs. The indigenous people get stung a dozen or more times during the puberty rites, and none of them suffer longterm effects. It's a local pain reaction.

"There were huge waves and crescendos of burning pain. It continued for around 12 hours. Crash. Recede. Crash."

We're all into folk remedies, so I thought that maybe ice would help. After it had been going on for an hour or so, we went to a restaurant. I was getting ice from the drinks and putting it on my finger. It sort of worked. As long as I was holding the ice on my finger, the pain stopped. I think it was because if you put ice on a nerve, the nerve can't fire anymore. But it didn't solve the problem. As soon as I took the ice off, the waves of pain returned. The other folk remedy&ndasha miner's folk remedy &ndash is when in doubt, have some booze. We were having some beers. They have wonderful beer in Brazil. That helped the palate, but it didn't do anything for the pain.

The bullet ant and the tarantula hawk wasp [the only other bug to reach a 4 on the pain scale] are like day and night. You can't draw much of a comparison, other than they both really, really hurt. The ant is a social animal that lives in colonies of 1,000 to 3,000 individuals. They have a colony to defend. The sting has to do longterm damage to get your attention. The tarantula hawk is a solitary wasp. It's a nomad that wanders around looking for tarantulas. In the process, it runs into big fierce things like birds or lizards that are trying to eat it. The goal of the tarantula hawk's sting is to get the predator to release it. All it wants to do is get out of the animal's grasp. In order to do that, it needs to deliver instantaneous pain.

The pain from the sting of the tarantula hawk is like you were walking underneath a high-voltage electric line in a wind storm, a wind gust snapped the line, and it fell on your arm. You get 20,000 volts all at once cascading through your body. It's pure electrifying pain. Instantaneous. Very clean and sharp. The good news is that it only lasts about three minutes. You don't get the waves of pain that you do with the bullet ant. It's just one super intense blast. The biology explains why that is. There's no need to hurt that long. The idea is to get jaws to open so the wasp can escape.

The pain decreases within the two or three minutes, but it's so painful that you don't notice it doing so. That's not on your radar screen. It's more that all of a sudden when you're done screaming in pain and you're completely exhausted, you look at your watch and you realize it's only been a few minutes. It's amazing that it's gone.

Want to see what bullet ant pain looks like? Watch below as Hamish Blake, of the Australian comedy duo Hamish & Andy, tries on some "bullet ant gloves" for the sake of our entertainment.

* This article is part of The Code, an editorial partnership between Esquire and Ford F-150.

New study confirms Noble False Widow spiders bites can result in hospitalization

Female Noble False Widow Spider, Steatoda nobilis. Credit: Dr John Dunbar, Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway.

NUI Galway study confirms that the Noble False Widow spider does have public health implications

Research team have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis

Epidemiology of bites reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing

In parts of Ireland and Britain, the False Widow spider has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats

A team of scientists from NUI Galway have published a new study showing that Noble False Widow spiders can deliver a bite that requires hospitalization.

The threat posed by the Noble False Widow spider has been debated among spider and healthcare specialists for many years. This new study, published in the international medical journal Clinical Toxicology, confirms that some bite victims experience symptoms very similar to the true black widow spiders and some severe cases require hospitalization.

Originating from Madeira and the Canary Islands, the Noble False Widow spider Steatoda nobilis, now has the potential to become one of the world's most invasive species of spider. It was first documented in Britain over 140 years ago, but in recent decades the species has suddenly increased in numbers, significantly expanding its range and density.

The reasons behind this sudden expansion are not clear. Scientists have ruled out climate change as the likely cause but have suggested that a new genetic mutation within the species may have made Noble False Widows more adaptable to new environments. In addition, the species has benefited from an ever-increasing globalized economy, hitchhiking in containers and crates throughout the globe. Human movement has largely contributed to spread this species throughout Europe, North Africa, West Asia and parts of North and South America.

In parts of Ireland and Britain, it has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats. With the increase in False Widow spiders around homes, bites are becoming more prevalent, and scientists are now beginning to realize the full medical importance of these spiders.

Envenomation symptoms can be both localized and systemic, ranging from mild to debilitating pain and mild to intense swelling. Some victims have experienced tremors, reduced or elevated blood pressure, nausea and impaired mobility. In rare instances, victims have developed minor wounds at the bite site or had to be treated for severe bacterial infections.

The research team at NUI Galway have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis. This is especially important when the spider has been squashed so an accurate identification of the spider can be made. The study also provides epidemiology of bites which reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing. The team are encouraging members of the public to email them at [email protected] if they think they may have been bitten.

Dr. Michel Dugon, Head of the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and senior author of the study, said: "In addition to their medically significant venom, Noble False Widows are extremely adaptable and competitive in the wild. Two decades ago, this species was almost unknown in Ireland, the UK or in continental Europe. We still have much to learn about its genetics, origin, behavior and development. One thing is certain though: this species is here to stay, and we must learn how to live with it."

Dr. John Dunbar, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and lead author of the study, said: "Speculations around the potential severity of the bites by the Noble False Widow have been debated for many years. We only compiled envenomation cases where we had a clear identification of the spider responsible for the bite. We had to rely on DNA extraction and genetic profiling to confirm some cases. We are encouraging people to capture a photograph of the spider immediately after being bitten. Our latest study confirms without a doubt that Noble False Widows can cause severe envenomations (the process by which venom is injected).

"This species is increasing its range and population density which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in bites (since submitting our study in March we have already received further confirmed bite cases). While most cases will have a mild outcome, we need to continue to closely monitor bites by the Noble False Widow to understand the potential range of symptoms and to treat severe cases when they occur."

Aiste Vitkauskaite, MSc student in Toxicology at NUI Galway and joint lead in the study, said: "Approximately ten species of Irish spiders have fangs large enough to bite through human skin, yet over the past five years, we have never heard of anybody being bitten by any of the native species. Within the same period, we have recorded dozens of confirmed or probable False Widow bites. These spiders will become increasingly common and so will their bites."

Professor Derek O'Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician, University Hospital Galway said: "This innovative research led by Dr. Dugon and his team clearly demonstrates that Noble False Widow spider bites may result in significant patient morbidity that requires hospital care. This is important as previously we only had anecdotal evidence of its potential harms in victims and therefore this new evidence will allow the updating of clinical guidelines and protocols. These findings demonstrates the key importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists and clinicians to improve patient care."

Classic Recluse Spider Bite

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

Brown recluse bites can go unnoticed, or they can lead to severe pain 2 to 8 hours after the bite. In some cases, patients report feeling a "pinprick" at the site of the spider bite.

In true cases of loxoscelism (medical terminology for the condition caused by brown recluse bites), skin tissue that develops could take several months to fully heal and the scars may remain.   Generally, brown recluse bites are much less likely to cause significant injury than black widows.

Your Spider Bite Might Not Be a Bite

It's nearly impossible to say for sure if a spider bite comes from a brown recluse without the use of a lab test. However, there are some telltale signs that can be used to rule out the possibility of a brown recluse bite.  

Signs It's Not a Recluse Bite

NOT RECLUSE is an acronym for the signs that a wound or lesion is not caused by a brown recluse bite. It stands for:

  • Numerous
  • Occurrence
  • Timing
  • Red center
  • Chronic
  • Large
  • Ulcerates too early
  • Swollen
  • Exudes moisture

The presence of any of these is an indicator that the wound isn't from a brown recluse. The presence of two or more of these signs almost guarantees that it's not. Let's take a look at each one.

Myth: Brown recluses bite everywhere

Fact: Unless you live in the south-central USA (see map, below), where Loxosceles reclusa actually exists, human bite cases are reported from your area because of the incompetence of those reporting them, not because of actual spiders biting people. In the USA generally, there are hundreds of these cases reported each year, and at least 80% of them are false reports from areas where the spider supposedly responsible does not exist.

"Brown recluse bite" has become medical shorthand for "this patient has a mysterious sore or lesion." In such areas as the Pacific coast states, it is safe to say that 100% of these reports are errors, and the vast majority (perhaps 95%) are not spider bite cases of any kind. It goes with the almost universally believed superstition, "if you didn't see what bit you, it was a spider." In reality, a variety of medical conditions (see this article) cause these mystery lesions, including lymphatic disorders, bacterial and fungal infections, and delayed-hypersensitivity allergic reactions — in addition to bites of ticks and other bloodsucking arthropods.

For a detailed analysis of the "bite" misdiagnosis problem in California, which has reached major proportions, see Rick Vetter's excellent web page: Myth of the Brown Recluse. A list of publications in medical journals on the epidemic of "brown recluse" misdiagnosis is available on request. Another brown recluse myth follows.

Brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa. Real distribution in 2002 real bites do not occur outside green area!

Information on this web site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and should not be used to diagnose or treat a medical or health condition. You should consult a physician as to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or treatment. Genuine spider bites can sometimes require medical attention, but beyond that, several medical conditions commonly mistaken for spider bite can be even more serious. If you have what appears to be a serious spider bite, please contact your health care provider or local emergency services. If you have the actual spider that bit someone, always save it for identification by a professional arachnologist.

"Everything that 'everybody knows' about spiders is wrong!" —Rod Crawford sets the record straight with Spider Myths.

Unique venom

There are more than 47,000 spider species, nearly all of which produce venom. But there are only four spider families with bites that are harmful to people — one of which is the recluse family, Greta Binford, an associate professor of biology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, told Live Science.

And brown recluse venom is special it includes a tissue-destroying toxin produced by no other spider group, Binford said. Reactions to the venom vary widely among individuals — many people who are bitten develop no symptoms at all, while others experience localized necrosis, or tissue death. In rare instances, the venom can lead to kidney failure, but those cases are highly unusual, according to Binford.

After a bite, pain in the region can be "stabbing and penetrating" or may develop into "a burning sensation," according to a paper published in December 2010 in the journal Clinician Reviews. Brown recluse venom targets and destroys tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, around the site of the puncture. The bite site may show some swelling, but the skin surface is usually flat or even slightly concave it may appear bluish or purple, and a white ring develops around the site as the blood supply is cut off, Binford explained.

"It's not uncommon for these venoms to cause lesions," she said. "That's the byproduct of the immune response around the bite site — the body will simply cut off blood flow."

If the area around the bite site stays red, that's actually a good sign it means that the capillary network is not completely destroyed, Vetter said. Once lesions form, the wound can take up to six months to heal completely, according to the Clinician Reviews report. [Spider-Man: 5 Weird Effects of Real Spider Bites]

Myth: Deadly Australian/Brazilian spiders

Fact: The previous myth page, where I said that no spider species anywhere can properly be called "deadly," generated more comments than any other on the site. Most were from Australians who were certain their country at least had truly deadly spiders, including the Sydney Funnelweb Spider, Atrax robustus, and the Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti. Some also mentioned White-tailed Spiders, genus Lampona. Some comments were from Brazilians who put forward their Phoneutria wandering spiders as the world's deadliest.

To start with, these people had misunderstood what I said. I never claimed that no human ever died from spider venom. What I said was, there is no species whose bite kills much more than 5% of its victims, nor any spider that kills within minutes, like in the movies. This applies just as strongly to Australia and Brazil as to the USA.

According to the Australian Museum, the number of human deaths from authentic spider bites of any kind in Australia since 1979 has been zero. A recent published medical study followed 750 genuine Australian spider bite cases with identified spiders over 27 months (1999-2001). Only 44 bites (6%, mostly redback spider bites) had significant effects. Only 6 redback bites and 1 Atrax bite were serious enough to need antivenom. In no case was there any sign of allergic response to spider venom, and I have only seen one such case in North America in 44 years.

Atrax robustus, the Sydney Funnelweb Spider, is often publicized as the "world's deadliest." Authentic medical information suggests otherwise. There have been no deaths (out of 30-40 bites per year) since antivenom was introduced in 1980. During the 53 year period 1927-1979 there were 13 or 14 known deaths, which would be a death rate of under one percent! Although one child died in 15 minutes, adult fatalities typically took 2-3 days. 90% of Atrax bites are judged not serious enough to need antivenom.

Most serious spider bites in Australia are from the Redback, Latrodectus hasselti, a close relative of American black widows with very similar venom and effects. The recent study mentioned above tallied 56 genuine redback bites. Only 37 (66%) had any serious effects, and only 6 (11%) were serious enough to need antivenom. There have been no redback-caused human deaths in several decades.

White-tailed spiders, Lampona cylindrata and relatives, have recently been blamed for Australian cases of severe necrotic lesions, but this connection was not based on enough evidence. The same authors who did the 750-bite study mentioned above, gathered a further 130 cases (aged 3-76 years) bitten by identified Lampona spiders. Local pain and itching were the only effects. No one developed any lesion or ulcer. White-tailed spiders are not guilty of doing any serious harm to humans this page has more details.

Brazilian Wandering Spiders (aranhas armadeiras), Phoneutria nigriventer, P. keyserlingi and P. fera, are sometimes said to have the world's most toxic spider venom – probably based on a well publicized study where mice were killed by intravenous injection of as little as 0.006 mg of venom. Since I'm a man, not a mouse, that doesn't worry me much. Authoritative sources state that over 7,000 authentic cases of human bites from these spiders have been recorded, with only around 10 known deaths, and about 2% of cases serious enough to need antivenom. So despite the surprisingly large number of bites, this spider is not exactly public enemy number one either.

Most medical conditions blamed on spiders by physicians lack confirmation that any actual spider was involved in the case. Spider bites of all kinds are rare events (as opposed to other bites and medical conditions that get wrongly blamed on spiders). Although it is possible for a spider bite to cause death, that is a very unlikely outcome and does not happen in enough cases to justify calling any spider "deadly."

"Everything that 'everybody knows' about spiders is wrong!" —Rod Crawford sets the record straight with Spider Myths.

Spiders: Should I be worried about being bitten by a false widow?

A recent study has found that numbers of the venomous spiders are increasing, along with the number of people being bitten by them. But what risk do they really pose?

Published: 03rd June, 2021 at 16:00

You could be forgiven for thinking that the UK is in the grip of a spider emergency. With “spider numbers surging” and “dangerous bite warnings” being issued in the media, people are being “terrorised” and even hospitalised.

These headlines have been building for a few years, and the species behind the media arachnid obsession is the noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis.

A relative newcomer to the UK, the species originates from the Canary Islands and Madeira. First reported from a site near Torquay in 1879, it spread through southern England, building up from the 1980s to become quite abundant, particularly in urban areas.

It has also been expanding its range northwards over time. So, although the lurid headlines are recent, the species has been around in many parts of the country for some time.

Read more about spiders:

If we want to get to the truth behind the headlines then there are several questions we need to answer. First, can noble false widows actually bite? There are not many UK species of spiders with fangs that are able to pierce our skin, but the noble false widow’s fangs certainly can.

However, in common with most spiders, they are not aggressive. Bites seem to occur when spiders are trapped in clothing or when people are asleep and perhaps roll over, trapping a spider. It is little comfort for anyone that has been bitten, but it is important to keep in mind that these animals are not out to get us.

The second question we need to answer is, are bites getting more frequent? Given that the spiders are getting more abundant, and that they are found where people live, then this certainly seems likely.

It is also supported by evidence away from the headlines. The noble false widow has been increasing in Ireland, and a study was recently conducted at the National University of Ireland, Galway on their bites.

Aiste Vitkauskaite, an Msc student in Toxicology and joint lead in the study, reported: “Approximately 10 species of Irish spiders have fangs large enough to bite through human skin, yet over the past five years, we have never heard of anybody being bitten by any of the native species. Within the same period, we have recorded dozens of confirmed or probable false widow bites.”

Vitkauskaite went on to confirm that: “These spiders will become increasingly common and so will their bites.”

The final, and perhaps most important question to answer is, are the bites medically significant? This is a challenging question to answer. It can be difficult to confirm that a bite has been caused by a spider at all, and if it has, which species was the culprit. The Ireland study bypassed species misidentification (and noble false widow spiders are easily confused with similar species) by using DNA extraction and genetic profiling.

This allowed them to confirm ‘envenomation’, when spider bites result in venom being injected, in 16 cases. Symptoms included debilitating pain, tremors, fatigue, nausea and low blood pressure. Bites were also able to cause bacterial infections, including cellulitis and dermatitis.

Whilst many bites likely result in only mild symptoms, in some people bites can cause more severe reactions and, the study found, hospitalisation was required in some cases. The study warns that noble false widows may represent a potential threat to public health.

Although this new study shows that in some cases noble false widow bites can cause problems, we need to keep things in perspective. No one has died as a consequence of spider venom in the UK, whereas around five people a year are killed by wasp and bee stings, and several people die annually from dog attacks. Spider bites seem to tap into our deepest fears, but remember that many of us have lived with, and will continue to live with, noble false widow spiders around our homes with no ill effects.

Read more from Reality Check:

Indeed, I doubt most people are even aware of them. I have been sent many photographs of spiders thought to be noble false widows and very few have been. As with all risks, we should keep things in perspective and perhaps be grateful that the UK has very few animals that can do us any harm at all.

If you are unlucky enough to get bitten by a false widow spider, then don’t panic. Try to get a photograph of the spider, or, if you can do so safely, capture it for later identification. Like a bee sting, there may be some pain and swelling but if you develop other symptoms, or the pain becomes more severe, then you should seek medical attention.

About our expert, Prof Adam Hart

Adam is an entomologist and the University of Gloucestershire’s Professor of Science Communication. As well as research and teaching, he is a regular broadcaster for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and has also co-presented several television documentary series for BBC2 and BBC4. His latest book, Unfit for Purpose (£16.99, Bloomsbury Sigma) is out now.

Watch the video: Top10 Έντομα Που Δε Θες Να Σε Τσιμπήσουν (June 2022).


  1. Shasida

    the doggie is not so badly settled down

  2. Kasey

    Wonderful, useful message

  3. Niklas

    How long can you talk about one and the same topic, the whole blogosphere is fucked up?

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