There are at least eighteen types of spiders in Arkansas, including garden spiders, house spiders, Brown Recluse, and Black Widows. They range from relatively harmless to deadly. Some people see spiders as just a pesky nuisance, but when spiders invade the home, they can be a health risk.
Among the more serious of these spiders are the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow. Brown Recluse Spiders are unfortunately common in Arkansas and throughout the south-central United States. They can be identified by their “fiddlebacks,” or the violin-shaped mark on their backs, as well as their light-colored, spineless legs. Brown Recluse Spiders are nocturnal and may not be obvious pests inside the house. However, their bites are painful and can even cause a condition called Loxoscelism
In the worst cases, Loxoscelism can lead to tissue death around the bite area and skin ulcers. There have even been a few recorded deaths from Loxoscelism. As dangerous as the Brown Recluse Spider is, the female Black Widow Spider
is significantly more toxic. This spider is known for its jet-black body and the red or orange hourglass-shaped marks on its underside. The males are much smaller than the females, with yellow and red bands and spots on the back.
Black Widows are commonly found in dark, small spaces, including outhouses, sheds, garages, crawl spaces, cellars and basements. Although Black Widows are shy and nocturnal, they can become aggressive when defending their webs, and they will bite humans if they are trapped or provoked.
The first symptoms of the Black Widow’s bite are the sharp pain of the fangs pricking into the skin, followed by a few minutes of burning sensation. The pain will then spread up the limb, localizing in the abdomen and back. Those who have been bitten may feel nausea, tremors, and a slight rise in body temperature. There may even be psychological effects, such as depression, insomnia, or speech defects. The most painful part of the reaction is the muscular spasms that can occur in arms, legs, back, and abdomen. Symptoms may appear immediately after a bite or they may take a few hours to appear.
You should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have been bitten by a Black Widow Spider.