Creighton Entomologist Offers Tips On Spiders To Avoid

They've built their webs around something that's been laying around in your garage for a couple of years

- Dr. Burk

OMAHA – Creighton University Entomologist Dr. Theodore Burk is offering tips on two spiders to avoid this summer, the Western Black Widow and the Brown Recluse.

He said there can be severe consequences from an encounter with these spiders.


Burk: “What black widows produce is a neurotoxin. So you can get a local reaction and a little skin death and swelling, the really severe complications are not really all that common. But when they do occur, it’s a nerve poison. And it’s much more dangerous to children because they’re smaller and the dose is correspondingly worse.”

The black widow has a shiny appearance with a red, hour-glass shape on the bottom of its over-sized abdomen. Its grows to about the size of a penny.

The brown recluse’s poisonous bite has even more severe consequences.

Burk: “The brown recluse, it’s a necrotic poison that actually destroys the tissue. And so you get a very ugly, raw, ulcerous area around the bite. It can get very nasty, very infected with staphylococcus or something.”

Creighton University offers tips on avoiding the spiders, including wearing protective clothing, do not swat at the spiders and shaking out clothing after working outdoors.

Burk described the favorite hiding places for the spiders.


Burk: “They both occur outside in places like wood piles, or under stones, or in shrubs, things like that. But probably most people encounter them in their houses, in their garages or basements or whatever, where they’ve come inside, they’ve built their webs around something that’s been laying around in your garage for a couple of years that you haven’t moved, or the stuff over in the corner of your basement.”

If you are bitten by a spider, scratching the bite site increases the risk of staph infection.
Seek immediate medical attention if the bite feels hot, develops significant blistering or skin becomes discolored. Spider bites can also cause a rash areas around the entire body.

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