By Marilyn Ledgerwood

The two most troublesome spiders are brown spiders and black widows. Identifying which spider you have seen is important.

Most spiders cannot harm people, and since they are the stalkers of other pests, they can be very useful. While much of the population has a disdain for spiders, their value ought to be considered due to the fact that they help rid our homes of unwanted insects. The spiders that could be harmful to people such as black widows are usually hidden out of sight, under objects in the home or in piles of wood outdoors. The general rule is that if a spider is out during the daylight hours or can be seen in your home, it is not the poisonous kind and you need not be alarmed.

Many people refer to the spider as an insect; this is incorrect, and they are in fact arachnids. Spiders have two parts to their body, eight legs, and no wings or antennae. The parts of the body are the sector near the head and the hind area, referred to as the abdomen. Spiders eat mostly insects and other spiders but will occasionally be found on plants. Nearly all spiders have harmful venom, which is used to subdue their quarry. However, spiders that bite humans may be harmful due to an allergic reaction to the venom. According to the Merck Manual, almost 60 species in the USA have been known to bite humans, however, most have fangs that are too short or delicate to penetrate the skin.

As much as we seem to feel that they are just waiting and watching for us in a dark corner or in our bed, this is not the case. Mosquitoes do hunt for warm blood and indeed want to bite. However, a spider will not seek you out to bite; he must be irritated. You can intimidate a spider to protect itself by sitting on it, standing on it, touching it, or startling it while it is in its hiding place or is hunting. The poisonous ones are usually out of our site in dark hidden away places in the yard or in the home.

The jaws of most spiders are too small to pierce the skin of most grownups and therefore tend to bite children more often. When a web is touched, deliberately or not, the vibration could cause a bite intuitively, because the spider thinks it has caught an insect. A bite may cause anything from little or no reaction to a severe response, depending on things such as the health and age of the person bitten. Some effects could be swelling, itching, redness, pain, and stiffness, but they are usually not too severe. However, if the bite causes extreme manifestations such as swelling and profound pain, call a physician immediately.

There are times when an individual is not aware of having been bitten until they begin to notice pain and itching. These bites could be other arthropods, which include ticks, fleas, bedbugs, mosquitoes, flies, and other such pests. In other words, spiders are not always to blame.

The black widow's bite results in a sharp, pricking pain, and the will continue with a subdued, anesthetized like pain in the area of injury. Spasmodic pain and muscular stiffness in the abdomen or shoulders, back, and chest may be experienced. In more severe cases, blood pressure will be elevated, especially in adults. Other symptoms may include:

Brown spiders, also known as "violin" spiders, will often cause a quick, burning feeling. Sometimes though, you may only feel a small amount of pain, or no pain initially. After around an hour, pain will develop in the area and it will become localized and tender. Progressively it will become red with an inner area that will develop a blood filled "blister" and become larger. This blood blister will eventually break leaving a wound that will form a scab, which is black in color. This scab will drop off and leave a crater where tissue has died and perhaps muscle. In this case, pain is intense and radiates around the entire area of injury. The rest of the body will experience signs such as:

Death due to these bites is rare. However, it is a good idea to catch the spider for identification purposes. Black widow spiders have a red or orange hourglass marking on the abdomen. The brown or “violin” spiders have a violin-shaped emblem on the body.

Most spiders are advantageous to humans. They help to eliminate unwelcome insects that are a nuisance, especially in the garden. Chemical pesticide control is not often required. Keeping rubbish and clutter away from the home is a very good deterrent. Dark, damp, hidden, areas are where reclusive brown spiders and black widow spiders tend to hide. Keep spider webs away from inside and outside of your home to discourage entrance.

Cracks and openings in the home are where spiders may enter. Items carried into the home in boxes, wood for the fireplace, or indoor plants are all good vestibules of entry, and may transfer these little creatures into our personal domain. Secure the cracks in the foundation of the home, and spaces around doors and windows. Clean clutter and debris in garages and around the house.

Above all if you are bitten and are not sure if the spider is poisonous, see your physician to determine the correct measures of treatment to be taken.