Okay people. Fair warning. Today is not the day to read my blog if you dont like spiders or gross pictures. There will be several including a classic example of brown recluse bite which is my wife’s arm several years ago. It’s very ugly. If you are squeamish just move on!

Here in OK there are only two venomous spiders, two more that bite hard enough to do significant damage, and several that might “sting” you if you tick them off.

First I want to show you a pic of something that is NOT a spider bite. All the time I get pts in that tell me they have a spider bite. My first two questions are: did you feel the spider and what did it look like? Often they didnt see it or feel it and usually it looks like this pic. This is an MRSA abscess. They happen. It has very little to do with cleanliness. It’s just a bacteria that’s out there and people think that a spider caused it. These usually need to be treated with warm compresses and sometimes draining. Note the deep red/purple and the small hole that may or may not have pus trying to drain. But it’s not a spider bite.

So biting spiders include tarantulas and wolf spiders. These folks arent venomous but they are just so big with big mouth parts that they can literally injure a person’s soft tissue. It’s very hard to get a bite from one of these guys unless you just ask for it. Neither one spins a web. They are both big enough to hunt for their food. You wont find these inside the house. That’s very unusual (sometimes the wolf spider will be, but that means you have insects they are eating in your house). They roam the yard hunting for bugs and are great to have around because they eat bugs, including other spiders. On the left is tarantula. Right is wolf. Note on the wolf the thick hairy legs and generally brown body with the LIGHTER tan stripe (not to be confused with the brown recluse later).

I’ve been told that garden spiders will bite if you really tick them off.

The two venomous spiders are black widow and brown recluse aka “fiddleback.” Black widows rarely bite but they can. They arent really dangerous to adults but can make an infant or toddler sick. They are the black ones with red hourglass on their abdomen. They spin a web. Feel free to kill them. They dont do any good for you.

Brown recluse is the bad actor. They have these really scary looking spindly legs and are light brown with a DARKER brown stripe on their back. That mark looks like a violin. The body of the violin is toward the head and the handle is toward the butt. These things creep me out. I saw one just two days ago at the lake. It crawled on my hand off of an air pump. It paid for that with it’s life. These are usually very small. This picture would be about dime or penny size.

My wife was bitten several years ago. The brown recluse bite can be very bad. Some people get a full body sickness called loscoxelism. My wife got this. She had hepatitis and was quite sick from this. Abd pain, couldnt eat. The wounds can become severe. The venom causes the blood vessels to clamp down and the tissues will die. This can spread quite a bit and cause a big wound depending on a pt. I have seen multiple of these in my career. Probably about 1 per year.

The brown recluse wound looks like this pic from my wife’s arm. In this picture I have already cut the dead tissue open. But this wound has the classic appearance. There is a red outer ring where there is inflammation. The white middle ring is where the blood vessels have clamped down. The “blue,” purple, or black middle area is where the tissue has or is dying. So this bite causes a red, white, and blue presentation.

No reason not to kill any brown recluse you see. Have your home sprayed to kill these suckers off if you find them.

Hope you learned something. Thank you for following the blog.

Dr D