I was watering the tomato plants out in our greenhouse when I noticed a very disorganized cobweb in a dark corner of the floor. I got down on my hands and knees to check it out and I saw a funnel-shaped hole at the back - and a shiny black widow spider with a red spot on her belly. It's supposed to be shaped like an hourglass but I've never gotten close enough to tell.
I quickly grabbed a can of pesticide and sprayed the spider and all around her web. According to information from the Nevada Cooperative Extension, the pesticide Pyrethin is very effective against black widows if it is sprayed directly on them. Diazinon sprayed around foundations will also provide good control. Remember to wear gloves and follow all label directions when using any pesticide.
If you are ever bitten by a black widow you should clean the area around the two little red spots where her fangs entered your skin. Then apply an antiseptic and ice packs to slow the movement of the spider venom and reduce pain and inflammation. Then contact your physician. According to my "Emergency Care of the Sick and Injured" book, the venom from this spider attacks the nervous system, resulting in severe muscle cramps, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Nausea, sweating and vomiting will also occur.
Although spiders are a very natural part of our environment, the poisonous and sometimes life-threatening black widow ought to stay out of our homes. It's been a very cold winter which may be driving them indoors in search of warmth. We've been seeing a few spiders in our house recently, but none were black widows. Yesterday I watched a little spider slide down a long string web all the way from a wooden beam near the 24-foot-high ceiling. It reminded me of a fireman sliding down a pole. The spider landed right on my shirt while I was sitting in a chair! I jumped up quickly and brushed the spider off me and then I squished him in a paper towel. It was black and kind of small and was not scary to look at.
I think there are only two kinds of spiders that would really worry me if I found them in our house. That would be a black widow and a brown recluse. The brown recluse is just as bad, or worse, than the black widow. The bite of a brown recluse spider causes severe local tissue damage and can lead to an ulcer and gangrene. The recluse is a little bit smaller than the black widow and it has a violin-shaped mark on its back. For sure, don't let any of those in your house.
Our daughter Christy got bit by one up at Lake Tahoe three years ago and the pain was excruciating. There were three black spots on her toe that continued to grow and destroy tissue. She went to Urgent Care six times and each time the physician sliced it open and took yellowish goop out of it. She had very strong antibiotics but it remained an ugly, slow-growing lesion for months.
Tom and Gail McCormick's daughter Molly was recently bitten by a recluse spider. Our best wishes for her quick recovery. Luckily, we don't hear of very many bites by this secretive spider. For sure, we need to keep them away from us.
-- Linda Monohan may be reached at 782-5802.