In June, heading home from an amazing 8 days on the road at Alumapalooza, we stopped in Memphis to get some shut eye before our final push for home. As Deke was outside hooking things up, I walked around the corner and he said “I don’t want to freak you out, but have you ever seen a Black Widow?”
My mind immediately back tracked to 2007 when I got bit by a Brown Recluse (that’s what the hospital told me, anyway). In typically ‘me’ fashion, I waited several days before going to the doctor (big mistake!). When I finally did go, I was immediately pumped with steroids and antibiotics through an IV. In a few weeks, the bandages came off and, although I had a lot of scarring, my arm was normal again!
So when I saw the Black Widow, I wanted to keep my distance, but also take advantage of the opportunity to look closer! I mean, it’s a beautiful spider! At the time of my own spider bite, I didn’t know anything about the dangers they can cause — I was a city girl who just squished them on site. So here’s a little spider lesson for all of us.
- Found everywhere in the US.
- Violin shape on their back with the violin neck pointing towards the back of the abdomen.
- Less than an inch long as an adult, and only has 6 eyes.
- Venom can cause necrosis and tissue loss (my arm, right, after about 3 weeks).
- Likes dark places (under the sewer cap at a campground?), indoors and out.
- Black with bright red hourglass shape on the underside of the abdomen.
- In some, the bite site becomes painful, and can spread to the abdomen, causing pain. Symptoms include muscle cramps, nausea and in certain cases chest pain. Go to the hospital! (Sidebar: when camping, know where the nearest hospital is.)
- Because of the Black Widow venom, narcotics and antitoxins are used to counter the bite.
Rounding out the top three most poisonous spiders by the Center for Disease Control, is the Hobo Spider.
- Found mostly in the Pacific Northwest.
- It’s brown with yellow markings on its abdomen.
In researching info about these spiders, I learned a few things. One, there are a lot of societies and groups dedicated to the discussion and study of arachnids. Two, none of these groups know how to build a website and update it with information. The International Society of Arachnology hasn’t been updated since 2004 and most of the links on the American Society are broken. I also found out that the foremost expert in Hobo Spider study mysteriously disappeared in 1999. Maybe my new career should be a comprehensive site on spiders?