Spiders can often be a big issue for people – especially for those who suffer from arachnophobia.
Although there are many positive superstitions around these eight-legged creatures, they have become a pest all around the globe due to their bites (which can be quite dangerous depending on the species) and people’s irrational fear of them.
What are spiders?
Often mistaken for insects, spiders are actually arachnids. They have eight legs – not six like all insects – and they lack antennae.
Spiders belong to the arthropod family of animals. Like all arthropods, they are characterised by their exoskeleton, segmented body and jointed appendages. Spiders have chelicerae, which is a fancy scientific word to describe their mouthparts. Their mouthparts contain fangs which can inject venom! Nasty right?!
Species of spider
Spiders come in many different shapes and sizes. It is estimated that there around 43,000 different species of spiders found across the globe.
It’s important to note that not all spiders are considered pests. Some of them live in tropical climates, deep in the forest far away from people, whilst others can be very beneficial to your garden, being predators to a handful of garden pests.
The world’s deadliest spiders
Of the many different species of spiders, there are five regarded as the world’s most deadly due to the strength of the venom in their bite.
The black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus) is probably the most well known venomous spiders.
Identified by its black colouring and contrasting red, triangular and hourglass-shaped body markings, this spider’s bite packs a nasty punch.
A cousin of the black widow, the brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) is another deadly spider due to its venomous bite.
Compared to the black widow, brown widows are usually lighter in colour, ranging from tan to dark brown. They are sometimes black. Although they share the same hourglass-shaped markings, the markings on a brown widow are usually orange/yellow.
Like other widow spiders, the red widow female’s venom is a neurotoxin that can be harmful to people.
As you’ve probably guessed, the red widow spider (Latrodectus bishopi) is a reddish colour. It has a black abdomen and, unlike its cousins, it does not feature a complete hourglass marking, but rather a series of small red markings.
The redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti) is another member of the widow (Latrodectus) family of spiders.
The redback spider is native to Australia. It is black in colour and can be identified by the prominent red stripe/hourglass-shaped mark on its back (although this can sometimes be absent or broken into spots in front with visible white lines).
Funnel-web spiders refer to the Dipluridae family of spiders who get their name from the funnel-shaped webs they build.
These arachnids are usually large in size and a brownish/black colour (this can vary depending on the species). The bites of some species can cause serious health complications.
Fear of spiders
A fear of spiders is something that is common amongst many. But why is this?
Well, believe it or not, research suggests that our fear of spiders is built into our DNA! Crazy, right?
This theory is all to do with our evolutionary history. Way back when our ancestors used to come into regular contact with venomous spiders. Because of this, they developed a survival instinct to be wary of them. As evolution has progressed, this fear has stuck with us.
Arachnophobia is defined as an extreme, irrational or persistent fear of arachnids such as spiders and scorpions.
It is considered to be one of the top 10 phobias experienced around the world.
Did you know, it is estimated that around 30.5% of the US population suffer from arachnophobia?
The potential for a spider to give a nasty bite can be a big concern for both homeowners and businesses.
However, it’s important to note that spiders rarely bite humans and only do so if they feel threatened or provoked. In some cases, the spider’s fangs aren’t strong enough to pierce your skin.
What do spider bites look like?
It can be difficult to diagnose spider bites as they often get mistaken for skin boils or infections. To add to this, the appearance of a spider bite can differ depending on the species of spider involved.
Spider bite symptoms
Like identifying spider bites, it is difficult to give a general description of the symptoms of a spider bite. This is because they vary depending on the spider, as different species have different strengths of venom.
Spider bite symptoms can vary and range from a mild reaction, such as inflammation of the skin or minor swelling and itching, to a more severe reaction causing lots of pain, gangrene and even necrotic wounds. Sounds painful, right?
How to treat spider bites
You’ve probably guessed already, treatment for spider bites depends on the species that has bitten you.
For the most part, a spider bite requires little to no medical treatment. However, if you have been bitten by one of the spiders described in this blog, such as a black widow or a funnel-web spider it is strongly advised that you seek urgent medical attention and treatment.
Need help getting rid of spiders in your home and/or business? Get in touch with Rentokil today.
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