Experts say to be on the look out for spiders this summer

Published: Jun. 20, 2017 at 8:03 AM CDT
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As summer gets underway experts advise staying vigilant when it comes to two species of spiders that you may come into contact with.

According to Creighton University Entomologist Dr. Theodore Burk the Western Black Widow and the Brown Recluse should both be on your radar this summer.

The Western Black Widow has a distinctive black, shiny appearance with a red hourglass shape on the bottom of its over-sized abdomen and grows to be about the size of a penny.

The Brown Recluse is identified by a dark violin shape on the top of its head and torso and can grow to be the size of a quarter.

“Both of these spiders can and will bite if disturbed.” said Dr. Burk.

The cause for concern is that both of these spiders pack a medically significant bite that can have severe consequences.

The Western Black Widow injects into its victims a neurotoxin, which causes inflammation, some skin death and itching around the bite area.

The Brown Recluse, however, injects a necrotic poison that destroys tissue, causing an ulcerous, raw-looking area in and around the bite site, according to Dr. Burk.

Both species can be found outside in places like wood piles, under stones, in shrubs or in grassy areas. Most people, according to Burk, encounter them in their houses, garages, basements, or in cluttered areas that haven’t been disturbed for long periods of time.

Dr. Burk also notes that bites from the Western Black Widow or Brown Recluse can be much more dangerous to children, because they’re smaller and the dose is correspondingly worse.

The elderly also may be more susceptible to complications caused by the neurotoxin of the Western Black Widow.

In rare cases, symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, joint stiffness and headache may accompany a bite, added Burk.

Dr. Burk encourages people to enjoy their time working or playing outdoors or indoors this summer, but also would like to make sure that we all identify and take simple steps to avoid coming in contact with these potentially dangerous spiders.

Dr. Burk provided tips on how to best avoid the spiders which can be found to the side of this article.


·         Wear gloves when working in the garden or around brush or wood piles, as spiders favor dark, secluded areas.

·         Sweep around boxes or objects that haven’t been moved for a while in basement or garage areas.

·         Wear shoes that cover the entire foot when in grassy areas.

·         Do not swat at or try to capture either spider, as doing that may trigger a defensive bite reaction.

·         Shake clothing out after working outdoors, as spiders have been known to hide inside clothing. 

·         Avoid scratching the bite site, as it could become infected with staphylococcus.


·         Seek immediate medical attention if the bite feels hot, develops significant blistering or the skin becomes discolored. Spider bites also can cause significant rash areas around the entire body.