Of around 50,000 species of spider only a very few are dangerous to humans, although arachnophobia is not without some basis of reasoning, with several animals that can cause death or at least very nasty, long lasting wounds and excruciating pain from their venom.
Some people react badly to bites that others would shrug off easily. However bites are generally rare and hardly ever fatal, especially with access to antivenom. They are nowhere near as dangerous as venomous snakes.
• Many spiders are nocturnal so beware the witching hour, and take care especially of:
• Clothing - from storage, or left on the floor where creepies can crawl in, particularly shoes and gloves. Check and shake out.
• Sleeping - in hi risk areas keep bedding off of floors and walls allowing animals access only from the supports. Check bedding and bags before getting in.
• Domains- attics, wood piles, storage sheds, garages and other cluttered places are a favoured domains for arachnids. Crops and plants also harbour the Black Widow.
• Safety tips: If you suspect there are killer spiders about, put down glue traps against walls behind the toilet, in cupboards, attics etc, and wear gloves when doing a clearout.
Australia is the place for really venomous animals and its arachnids are no exception
Funnel Web - this is the most poisonous spider in the world. The bite is strong enough to pierce a fingernail and the venom will generally kill a man in a day if antivenom is not available. From 1927 -1980 seventeen people lost their lives due to funnel web bites. The male is particularly dangerous; on occasion it enters houses looking for a mate and is quite aggressive, though its large size means it is more likely to be seen.
Pain, swelling, redness, numbness at site and around mouth. Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, breathing difficulties, muscle spasms.
• try to kill the insect for ID purposes: don't panic, very few
people die of spider bite.
Redback - another of Australia's deadly creatures; while without the fangs of the funnel web, this one is tricky as it commonly lives within houses and sheds right across the continent. Not often fatal, but several hundred bites a year do occur and antivenom is recommended for safety purposes.
Pain, swelling, redness and sweating. Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain. Heavy sweating and swollen glands in armpits or groin.
• try to kill the spider for ID purposes: don't panic, very few
people die of redback bites.
USA has two spiders which are considered life-threatening
Brown Recluse - also known as the 'fiddleback' (due to violin-shaped markings on its back), and found in the central and southern states; the bite though rarely fatal, can cause significant long term tissue damage, and the wound may be problematic for years.
Little initial pain is replaced over several hours or days by
intense pain and may be followed by: headaches, fever, skin rash,
nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, renal failure and coma.
• wrap a light bandage above and below the bite site(if you can't
get two fingers under the bandage, it's too tight).
Widow - the female eats the male after mating, thus
The bite is not painful and may not be noticed until later, when muscular, feet or stomach pains occur. Other symptoms are heavy sweating, swollen eyelids, erratic saliva production and difficulty in breathing. Healthy adults will recover in two or three days, though the old (60+) or young (-16) may need hospital treatment.
• clean the bite site
South America has several dangerous spiders
Brazilian Wandering Spider - a large one which travels Amazonian forest floors away from a web, is highly aggressive and can kill children.
Brown (Recluse) - they also host a cousin to the USA's favourite nightmare.
Tarantulas - the largest spiders, have venom but generally only equivalent to a strong bee sting and they do not attck unless crushed. See photo at top.