Animal World

Arthropods: Crustaceans, Insects, and Spiders

What first aid measures can be used for a bite by a black widow spider?

No. Male mosquitoes live on plant juices, sugary saps, and liquids arising from decomposition. They do not have a biting mouth that can penetrate human skin as female mosquitoes do. In some species the females, who lay as many as 200 eggs, need blood to lay their eggs. These are the species that bite humans and other animals.

The black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) is common throughout the United States. Its bite is severely poisonous, but no first aid measures are of value. Age, body size, and degree of sensitivity determine the severity of symptoms, which include an initial pinprick with a dull numbing pain, followed by swelling. An ice cube may be placed over the bite to relieve pain. Between 10 and 40 minutes after the bite, severe abdominal pain and rigidity of stomach muscles develop. Muscle spasms in the extremities, ascending paralysis, and difficulty in swallowing and breathing may follow. The mortality rate is less than one percent, but anyone who has been bitten should see a doctor; the elderly, infants, and those with allergies are most at risk and may require hospitalization.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Science Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App