Summer is winding down, and cooler fall weather is right around the corner. As you get ready for sweater weather, bonfires, and corn mazes, you’re probably packing up the mosquito nets and repellant with a sigh of relief. However, if you live in South Louisiana, you should be aware that – though mosquito season is coming to an end – there are still pests around that can cause you real harm. In particular, you need to beware of the prevalence of black and brown widows in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area.
Poisonous Spiders Moving into Southern Louisiana
A local news piece on Fox 8 reported back in 2012 that brown widows were “on the move” following Hurricane Katrina. Cousin to the black widow, the brown widow was not always a problem for southern Louisiana residents, but after the devastating hurricane’s massive upheaval of natural habitats, the spiders began to migrate to more populated areas, and they continue to be present in and around Baton Rouge today.
Black widows, as you may already know, are indigenous to Louisiana and their presence is not news to most residents. Fortunately, neither spider is aggressive or particularly predatory. They prefer warm, dark places, and they will usually flee if given the chance, rather than standing their ground and attacking. However, if you accidentally trap one, and your hand or foot is in the way, it will not hesitate to bite you.
A Potentially Deadly Bite
Both black widow and brown widow bites have very potent neurotoxins in their bites. A bite from either a brown or black widow is not an automatic death sentence, but their poison will immediately begin rotting the flesh around the bitten area. Without immediate medical attention, you risk infection, gangrene, the need for amputation, and even death.
Children, senior citizens, and people with impaired immune systems are the most at risk for serious infection and/or death from a black or brown widow spider bite. So teach your kids how to identify these potentially dangerous arachnids, as well as how to avoid being bitten.
Identifying Black and Brown Widows
Most people know how to identify a black widow. They are about a half-inch long with a telltale hourglass-shaped red mark on the underside of their shiny black abdomens. A black widow will also sometimes have red spots on the top of its abdomen.
If you see a black, shiny spider that’s about a half-inch long with a round abdomen, don’t inspect closer; back away from it and warn others that you’ve potentially found a black widow nest. If it’s in your home or yard, call a pest control expert to have the problem dealt with.
Brown widows are slightly larger than their cousins and also have an hourglass on the undersides of their abdomens, though theirs is a lighter burnt orange color. Their legs are a very light brown with darker brown stripes at the joints, and their abdomens are a light, mottled brown. Brown widows can reach up to an inch and a half in length, and they tend to inhabit the same dark, warm environments that black widows do.
How to Avoid Them and What to Do if You’re Bitten
Try to avoid digging around or getting into dark, moist, warm places. Warn your kids about spider habitats and tell them to come to you immediately if they see a suspect spider. You can then evaluate the situation and call the professionals if need be.
If you or someone you love has been bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Keep the bitten limb elevated above the heart if possible, but do not apply a tourniquet, and do not try to cut or suck the poison out. Just get to the hospital or urgent care facility, and have a medical professional treat you as soon as possible.
If you’re concerned about dangerous spiders being in your home, contact Dugas Pest Control today for a free consultation, 1-888-606-9282.