One of the more common insects found in and around the home are spiders, both venomous and non-venomous. Tennessee is home to three species of venomous spiders; brown recluse spider, black widow spider, and the lessor known brown widow spider. During the hot summer months these spiders can take refuge in your home.
Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown Recluse Spider is a medium size spider that is a light yellowish brown to a dark reddish or chocolate brown in color. The Brown Recluse only has 3 pair of eyes compared to 4 pair of eyes of other spiders and has a violin shape marking on the top of the body that is usually darker than the rest of the body. Since other spiders also have the violin shaped marking, the best way to identify the Brown Recluse is by the three pair of eyes arranged in a semi-circle.
The bite from a Brown Recluse may not be felt initially, but will become painful and itchy within 2-8 hours. After 12-36 hours, the pain and other effects worsen. Wounds can take a long time to heal, and sometimes result in a ulcerating sore that can take months to heal. Fatalities are rare, though young children, the elderly, and people with poor immune symptoms are at the highest risks. Vanderbilt Hospital has reported an increase in patients with systemic reactions this year, particularly life-threatening bleeding, which in the past, has been rare. The Brown Recluse can be found in attics, garages, closets, out buildings, and wood piles.
Black Widow Spider
Tennessee is home to two different species of the Black Widow Spider, the Northern Black Widow, and the Southern Black Widow. The Black Widow Spider is glossy black in color, but can also be dark brown to a reddish brown. The abdomen has the famous hour-glass design that is red or orange in color, although in immature widows, the hour-glass might be white or missing.
A bite from a Black Widow is immediate felt with symptoms occurring 20 minutes–1 hour after the bite. Some people experience slight effects from the bite while others may be more severe. People rarely die from the bite of a Black Widow, with children and the elderly being the highest risk for life-threatening symptoms.
The Black Widow Spider favors areas that are dark such as water meter compartments, under splash boxes, or in crawl spaces, but also can be found in firewood piles, under furniture, in debris, inside boxes, and in out buildings.
Brown Widow Spider
AKA Grey Widow, or Geometric Button Spider, is a cousin to the famous Black Widow Spider. The Brown Widow Spider colors can range from tan to dark brown, black, and grey. The Brown Widow Spider has the prominent hour-glass on the abdomen, although the color can be orange or yellow. Unlike the Black Widow Spider, the Brown Widow has a black and white geometric pattern on the dorsal side of the abdomen.
The Brown Widow has been restricted to the Florida Peninsula for many decades. In 2000, the Brown Widow started showing up in other states, and has rapidly expanded its territory. The Tennessee Department of Agricultural still does not list the Brown Widow as one of the state’s residents while other sources have reported sightings.
The toxicity of the Brown Widow Spider is still debated.
Steps to Reduce Risk of Spider Bites
You can take steps to reduce the risk of spider bites:
- Wear gloves, long sleeve shirts and pants when handling debris, logs, or while weeding
- Eliminate clutter
- Do not let bedding touch the floor, and remove dust ruffles
- Shake out clothes and check shoes before putting them on
- Use caution when removing stored items from boxes
- Keep grass cut
- Seal cracks and other entrances.
What Do I Do if Bitten by a Spider?
If bitten by a spider, attempt to collect the spider in a safe manner using a sealable container, identification is vital when seeking medical treatment. Even bites from a non-venomous spider should be evaluated by a medical professional due to risk of infection, and a tetanus shot may be needed.
Regular service by a licensed pest control company such as Absolute Pest Control can greatly reduce the population of spiders and other pests in and around your home. For assistance with spiders or other pest control issues, please contact Absolute Pest Control at 615-220-1933.