Spider bites are injuries caused by spiders. For the most part (approximately 99% of the time) bites sustained by spiders to humans are mere annoyances, if they are noticed at all. In very rare cases (about 1% of the time) of spider bites the injured site may become necrotic (premature death of local cells); the bitten victim may suffer systemic toxicity or may even sustain death.
Spiders feed off other creatures (including other spiders) and they begin the feeding process by biting and injecting venom which is intended to render their prey helpless due to resulting paralysis or death. Although the quest for sustenance is their main reason for biting, spiders will also bite as a way of defending themselves. All spiders but a small handful which includes hackled orb-weaver spiders, the holarchaeidae spiders and the primitive mesothelae spiders have the capability of producing vendor of one kind or another and various quantities.
Spider Bites and Their Venom
Venom is a very costly commodity to spiders because producing it is quite exertive and they, therefore, tend to be frugal about spending. Thus, spiders have a way of controlling how much or how little venom is spent on any particular bite they inflict and their decisions are based on the given circumstances such their reason for biting — to feed or to defend themselves. If, on the one hand, their bites are inflicted on prey they will ultimately feed off, spiders will inject as much venom as is required to subdue it. On the other hand, if the bites are meant to deter enemies, spiders will inject enough venom to scare the enemy away or simply bite without injecting any venom at all. The latter circumstance applies to humans. Since spiders do not view humans or any other large mammals as prey, any bites they deliver are defensive and thus little or no venom is injected. Venomless bites are called dry bites.
Not all venoms of all spider bites are equal. Most contain neurotoxins which affect the nervous system while others contain latrotoxins which release toxic chemicals that stimulate the contraction of muscles which can then lead to painful abdominal cramping and disturbances in breathing. Some spider venoms release chemical compounds that lead to overall body dysfunctions.
Dangerous Spider Bites
There are literally tens of thousands (approximately 30,000) different types of spiders sharing Planet Earth with us but only a small handful are dangerous to humans. Only two of dangerous spiders; the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider, reside in the United States and mostly in the Southern states where the climate is warm and flies (their favorite food) are in abundance. The Australasian funnel-web spiders, the malmignatte spiders, the mouse spiders, the Brazilian wandering spiders, the South African six-eyed sand spiders, the Chinese bird spiders, yellow sac spiders, Japanese sac spiders, primitive burrowing spiders, cupboard spiders and the Chilean recluse spiders are also counted among the most dangerous spiders to mankind.
Although spiders have been known to live under just about any circumstances, their preferred niches are dark, dry and low traffic areas such as woodpiles, under sinks and corners of closets or tool sheds.
Treatments for Spider Bites
The area bitten by any spider should first be washed with plenty of soap and water. Whenever possible, the bitten site should be isolated with a tight wrapping that will stop the venom from spreading. A cold compress should than be applied. To relieve minor symptoms of discomfort, a pain reliever may be administered.
If the culprit spider is identified as one of the venomous ones or in cases where severe swelling, flushing and/or extreme pain, high fever, shortness of breath and dizziness, muscle soreness, or any other unusual symptoms occur; medical professionals should be sought out immediately. And spider bites that require medical attention are usually treated with antihistamines or steroids, or a combination of the two.