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Spiders Are Usually Hiders, Not Biters

Don't spin a web of worry about them

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

SUNDAY, July 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- When you're out in your garden this summer, don't be afraid of the spiders.

They actually pose little threat to humans; most are quite shy and will try to flee. And they'll only bite as a last defense.

There are more than 3,500 different species of spiders in North America, and they play an important role in controlling insect pests such as flies.

Few spiders can actually pierce human skin with their fangs, and most spider venom is harmless to humans. An ordinary spider bite will, at most, cause temporary skin discoloration or swelling similar to a mosquito bite, says the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Two spiders that are potentially dangerous are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. In the United States, fewer than five people die each year from black widow spider bites, and fatal brown recluse spider bites are extremely rare.

However, the bites of both these spiders can cause severe pain and infection.

Here's some advice on how to prevent bites from these and other spiders:

  • Stay away from areas where black widow and brown recluse spiders are likely to live. Black widows often make tangled webs in and around outbuildings, storage units, old tree trunks, or cabins and other buildings that don't get regular use.
  • Keep your basements, closets and rooms clean and clutter-free. These spiders will usually not stay in areas that are constantly disturbed.
  • Shake out clothing, blankets, towels and other items if they've been in areas where these spiders may be living.
  • Always take the time to check before you put your hand in a lumber pile, window well, little-used cabinets or drawers, or under rocks or other objects.
  • Pesticides don't help much in controlling spiders.
  • If you suspect you've been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider, see a doctor.

More information

Here's where you can find a big web of information about spiders.

SOURCE: Missouri Department of Conservation
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