Fatalities resulting from black widow bites rarely occur today, but the spiders continue to have a reputation as deadly arachnids. Black widows used to pose a much more significant public health threat to US citizens than they do today, as black widows were commonly feared spiders before the advent of indoor plumbing. Black widows earned their fearsome reputation from the days when they were common within outhouses. Black widows often infested outhouses where they frequently inflicted bites on the most unfortunate of bodily areas. Today, black widow antivenoms are available in cases where patients demonstrate serious envenomation symptoms, but it should be known that children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at the greatest risk of suffering severe symptoms following a black widow bite. While black widow venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, making these spiders the most venomous in the US, the brown recluse spider species is quickly displacing black widows as the most feared spider species. Unfortunately, Texas is home to both the southern black widow and the brown recluse spider species, both of which inflict bites on hundreds of Texas residents each year. Not too long ago, a study was conducted that determined which notoriously dangerous spider species inflicts the greatest number of bites to Texas residents.
Researchers used data collected by Texas poison control centers to determine the number of black widow and brown recluse bites sustained in Texas. Between 1998 and 2002, 760 black widow bites and 1,369 brown recluse bites were reported in Texas. Black widow bites were more common in men, while brown recluse bites were more common in women. Most black widow bites had mild outcomes, while most brown recluse bites had moderate outcomes, and most of these reported bites occurred on the bite victims property. Western Texas saw the greatest number of black widow bites, while brown recluse bites were most common in central Texas. This information is useful for determining which of these two dangerous spider species are most likely to sting you and others living in your home.
Have you ever spotted a brown recluse in your home?