Black widow spider bite facts

Black widow spider bite facts

Black widow spider bite fact nr 1
It is a well known black widow spider bite fact that the injected venom is extremely potent. Fortunately enough, the comparatively small size of the black widow spider means that only a small amount of venom is produced and injected. A human body will therefore usually be able to dilute and break down the venom, and the symptoms will begin to diminish after a day or so.

Black widow spider bite fact nr 2
A less widely known black widow spider bite fact concerns the difference between the sexes; female black widow spiders are much more dangerous to humans. The chelicerae (mouth parts) of a black widow spider are quite small and weak compared to the chelicerae of most other spider species, and this is true for both sexes. Each chelicera has a hollow, needle shaped part that is used to penetrate the skin of prey and perceived attackers. In an adult female black widow spider, this part will be roughly 1 millimetre (0.04 inch) long and can therefore easily penetrate the skin of a human an release the venom at a dept where it causes a lot of damage. The male black widow spider on the other hand, will have much smaller “needles” and will therefore inject the poison far less deeply. Since he is much smaller than the female, he is also incapable of injecting as much poison as the female does.    

Black widow spider bite facts nr 3
Even a large, female black widow spider can only inject a very small amount of venom in one bite. Unlike the small insects that the black widow spiders feed on, a human will therefore usually dont die after a black widow bite. Our large bodies can diffuse the venom and gradually break it down. During this process, we will however suffer from severe pain and often experience a wide range of other unpleasant symptoms. A black widow spider bite fact that is reassuring to know is that deaths from black widow spider bites are very rare, even though a lot of people get bitten every year. In the United States, compiled black widow spider bite facts show us that between the year 1950 and 1989 there were only 63 reported instances of lethal black widow spider bites. The risk of dying from a black widow spider bite will increase if you do not seek medical attention, and if you have underlying health problems, such as a hearth condition. Before the antivenom was invented, up to 5 percent of reported bites were lethal. 

Black widow spider bite fact nr 4
Our modern society where indoor flush toilets have replaced the outhouses have greatly decreased the risk of being bitten by a black widow spider. James A. Wilkerson, M.D., published a lot of fascinating black widow spider bite facts in his book “Medicine for Mountaineering”. He did for instance find out that almost 50 percent of black widow bites reported in medical literature between 1900 and 1940 concerned patients that had been bitten on the male genitalia while visiting outdoor toilets.


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