BLACK WIDOW SPIDER
- The black widow is a medium-sized spider whose body is about a half-inch long. The name is derived from the mistaken belief that the female invariably kills the male after mating. Although the spider is mostly found in the southern United States, it may be seen throughout the US. Five species are common to the US, with two of them being the most common:
- The southern black widow has the shiny, black, globular abdomen with the distinctive red hourglass on the underside.
- The northern black widow has a row of red spots down the middle of the upper surface of its abdomen and two crosswise bars on the undersurface. The markings can also be yellow or white, and the spider itself may be brown or have red legs.
- Black widow spiders are nocturnal and, thus, are active at night. They prefer dark corners or crevices. They are said to avoid human dwellings, but you can find them in such areas as outhouses and garages. Only the female black widow bites humans, and she bites only when disturbed, especially while protecting her eggs.
- Local pain may be followed by localized or generalized severe muscle cramps, abdominal pain, weakness, and tremor. Large muscle groups (such as shoulder or back) are often affected, resulting in considerable pain. In severe cases, nausea, vomiting, fainting, dizziness, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties may follow.
- The severity of the reaction depends on the age and physical condition of the person bitten. Children and the elderly are more seriously affected than young adults.
- In some cases, abdominal pain may mimic such conditions as appendicitis or gallbladder problems. Chest pain may be mistaken for a heart attack.
The antivenin available for treatment of black widow spider bites is derived from horse serum. The venom produced by various species of black widow spiders is similar, so the antivenin prepared against one venom is effective against the others. Antivenin is produced by gradually increasing injections of the specific venom in a horse. The horse then starts producing the antivenin, which will be used in humans.