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Pest Identification: Health Risks of Spiders

A small brown spider sitting on a person's skin

Spiders are mostly harmless, especially compared to some other pests that pose property damage risks in addition to health risks. That hasn’t stopped spiders from being one of the most fascinating, vilified, and feared animals in the world, though. Classified under the Order Araneae and the Class Arachnida, the small, eight-legged, multi-eyed arthropods nevertheless pose multiple health risks to humans. They do so via three ways: fear, allergic reaction, and envenomation.

Fear of Spiders (Arachnophobia)

Fear of spiders is extremely common in Tennessee and throughout the United States. It’s common enough to have an official designation: arachnophobia. While mild fear of spiders is perfectly normal and doesn’t have major drawbacks, full arachnophobia can present problems in one’s day-to-day life. Like other phobias, arachnophobia is mostly irrational and disproportionate to the effect most spiders physically have on humans.

Common symptoms of arachnophobia can include:

  • Uneasiness
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fainting

Arachnophobia is best treated through exposure therapy, where the person who fears spiders is exposed to spiders via pictures, video, and physical contact with spiders.

Spider Allergy

While cockroaches are well-known to cause allergic reactions and worsen asthma when humans breathe in the dust remains of a shed exoskeleton, spiders can also cause similar allergic reactions from their hairs. These hairs are called urticating hairs or bristles and can cause allergic reactions if inhaled, in addition to causing allergic reactions directly on your skin. Spider bites can also cause allergic reactions. 

Common symptoms of spider allergy can include:

  • Sneezing, runny nose, and coughing
  • Redness and runny eye
  • Rash and itchy skin

Antihistamines can help allergic reactions, and removal of the stimuli will naturally result in the symptoms clearing up. Symptoms can clear in days or weeks depending on the severity.

Envenomation (Spider Bites)

Most spiders are not aggressive and prefer to run away rather than seek conflict with humans. However, if surprised or threatened, spiders can and do bite humans. Spiders use their bite to incapacitate insects, so bites from most spiders don’t pose a threat to humans. However, two spiders in the United States—the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider—have potent-enough venom to affect humans. Symptoms can include:

  • Skin rash
  • Fever, chills, and vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Necrosis
  • Muscle weakness and difficulty breathing

If you are unsure what spider bit you, be on the lookout for additional symptoms and contact a medical professional if you experience anything serious. If you know you were specifically bitten by a black widow or brown recluse, contact a medical professional.

For Spider Control, U.S. Pest Protection Has Your Back

If you’re worried about spiders in your home, you don’t need to fret for long. U.S. Pest Protection makes it easy to schedule a free pest inspection so you can get all the information you need to make an informed decision. Plus, with our regularly scheduled preventive pest control, you can keep spiders away in the future. For spider control, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today!

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