Dr. Jorge Parada, a medical spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), wrote an excellent article on spider bites that was featured in PestWorld news. Since spiders tend to be even more prevalent in winter months, I thought I’d share this article with you over the next few posts.
Spiders are not intentionally harmful to humans. Most spider bites occur when humans accidentally trap or brush up against a spider and receive a defensive bite. On rare occasions, spiders may have a serious lapse in judgment and bite a human finger (or other body part) mistaking it for a caterpillar or other such prey. Even then, most spiders are too small and not capable of breaking the skin with their fangs, or their venom too weak to be dangerous to humans. Simply put — most spider bites are accidental, harmless and require no specific treatment.
Still, that is not enough to stop spiders from having a bad reputation. It is common for any unexplained skin irritation to be called a “spider bite.” In fact, most skin lesions and symptoms that are attributed to spiders are rarely actually due to a spider bite. Research has shown that 80 percent of presumed spider bites are actually bites from other insects, or due to skin infections such as MRSA (a resistant staph infection).
Yet, occasionally, a spider’s bites will cause real harm. Spider bites may cause injury by three mechanisms. First, especially with larger spiders, the bite itself may be painful and cause injury. However, far more concerning is the spider’s venom, which can include necrotic agents or neurotoxins. Spider bites rarely transmit infectious diseases.
Most spider bites are less painful than a bee sting. Pain from non-venomous spider bites typically lasts for five to 60 minutes while pain from venomous spider bites frequently lasts for longer than 24 hours. The rate of a bacterial infection due to a spider bite is low (less than one percent).