If you’ve lived in Charlotte for a time, you’ll probably have noticed that we have a lot of spiders. The North Carolina climate is perfect. Meaning that you’ll find eight-legged beasties whatever the season. While this is never going to be happy news if you happen to be an arachnophobe, it may come as some comfort to learn that only a handful of these spiders will give a nasty bite. And only two – the Southern Black Widow and the Brown Recluse – are truly dangerous.
So, how can you identify the spiders you really need to avoid? And how do you go about avoiding them?
Charlotte’s dangerous spiders
Southern Black Widow Spider
The Southern Black Widow is one of the most easily identified spiders in NC, thanks to the bright red hourglass shape on its underside. Aside from that, it has a shiny black body and very rounded, bulbous abdomen. They’re not the biggest spiders, with the males averaging about half a centimetre in length and the females growing up to 1.3cm. And only the females carry poison.
The good thing about black widows is that they are quite shy. You’re unlikely to find one openly crossing your front room. Or scaling the wall of your bedroom. Buy you do need to be wary in dark crevices, such as under stairs closets, garages and sheds.
If a black widow bites you may not notice straight away. It can feel like a pinprick or a splinter. But while rarely fatal, the black widow bite can cause severe neurological problems. So, you need to see a doctor as soon as you think you may have been bitten. The symptoms include:
- Swelling, pain and stiffness at the bite site
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Tremors, weakness and loss of muscle control
- Skin rash
Black widow bites are particularly dangerous to young children. Seek help immediately if you believe that your child has been bitten.
Brown Recluse Spider
You could easily pass your whole life without ever meeting a Brown Recluse. Naturally shy, they stay away from people. And being no more than 2cm in size and a nondescript brown color, they’re easy enough to miss. You’re most likely to find them in a cool shed, or in storage boxes you’ve put the attic or garage.
The main problem with the Brown Recluse is that their bites can easily go unnoticed. Many people have reported that they don’t hurt at all. But the spider’s venom is necrotic, which means that it destroys the tissue around the bite, and can cause of a range of extremely unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Itching, blistering and pain around the bite site
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rash with ulceration
- In extreme cases, seizures and coma can also occur in the very young
Other spiders to be wary of in Charlotte
While the Southern Black Widow and Brown Recluse are the most dangerous spiders in the region, there are other arachnids that you need to be wary of in NC.
- Wolf Spiders are our biggest venomous arachnids in North Carolina and their bites are incredibly painful. But unless you have an allergy to the venom, they are not considered dangerous.
- Jumping Spiders will usually only bite if they feel under threat. The bite of the Jumping Spider can leave you feeling pretty sick, with nausea, headaches and chills. But, again, unless you have an allergy, the venom will not kill you.
However, it’s important to note that if you’ve been bitten by a spider you might not be able to identify – or even see – the species. So:
If you think that you’ve been bitten by a spider, seek medical help immediately.
How to avoid spider bites
Unfortunately (if you don’t like them, that is), spiders live everywhere. While you can take precautions and ensure that your home is as sealed as it possibly can be, you won’t be able to keep all spiders out. And you certainly won’t keep them out of your shed, garage, outhouse or mancave. When you’re walking in the woods, you’ll unknowingly pass hundreds – thousands of them. But it’s not like they’re seeking you out. They’re not waiting behind trees to jump out and bite you. So, to avoid them, you just need to employ a little common sense.
- If you’re looking for something in your shed, wear gloves and long sleeves, and look into boxes and plant pots before you put your hands in them.
- Don’t rummage around in woodpiles without caution.
- Shake out clothing before putting it on if you’ve not worn it for a while.
- If you’re out in nature, look before you sit and don’t put your hands on/in things you can’t see. Wearing long pants and boots is also a good idea when walking in long grass – you’ll protect yourself against ticks that way too.
- Check your home regularly to limit the likelihood of an unexpected spider encounter.
What to do if you think there’s a poisonous spider in your home
One of the main ways that people get bitten by poisonous spiders is that they see them in their home and think they can get rid of them themselves. Some people are lucky with their hurled shoe, hairspray and vacuum cleaner. Others get bitten. In our view, it’s not worth the risk.
If you find a what you think is a potentially poisonous spider in your home, call in a professional pest management team. Noosa Pest Management have the equipment necessary to safely remove dangerous pests from your home. And while we’re at it, we’ll carry out an inspection to make sure that there are no new eggs waiting to hatch… We won’t even laugh if your Brown Recluse turns out to be a common house spider!
Spiders are scary because we don’t understand them. They look utterly alien. And some of them are dangerous. If you are ever worried, it’s a good idea to ask for help. But getting to know your enemy can save you a lot of stress in the long run.