Poisonous Insects And Spiders Of The Southwest
A guide to poisonous insects and spiders of the Southwest, including the black widow spider, brown recluse spider, tarantulas, centipedes, hornets, vinegaroons, and scorpions.
Potentially dangerous insects and spiders of the Southwest include:
the rock or bark scorpion, black widow spider, brown recluse spider, and honey bees. The following article provides information on these insects and spiders, as well as other ones of the Southwest.
Rock or bark scorpion
This scorpion is small, slim, and light straw colored, with a sting in the tip of the tail. The stinger injects a minute amount of powerful venom. It is dangerous to small children, epileptics, asthmatics, and people with chronic health problems. Normally, there will be pain at the site of the sting, numbness, restlessness, fever, fast pulse, and difficulty with breathing. Healthy adults usually have little serious reaction. All varieties of scorpions WILL sting. Even if the sting is not as dangerous as that of the rock scorpion, all are extremely painful. Ice may help. Always shake out boots and clothes. Never go barefoot in the desert, especially at night. Never pick up anything from the ground unless you've turned it over with your foot or a stick. The scorpion is nocturnal. Prevention is always easier than a cure. Seek medical attention.
Black widow spider
Shiny, black, with a red hourglass marking on the abdomen of the female, this arachnid is found in dark corners of sheds, under logs, and in rock piles. Black widows are found in both settled and unsettled areas. The spider will bite, if provoked, and the bite can be dangerous to all ages. It is seldom fatal. However, the pain spreads throughout the body, accompanied by headache, dizziness, nausea, and excruciating cramps. Ice is very helpful and if put on the site immediately, can detoxify the bite. Seek medical attention.
Brown recluse spider
Light brown in color and about 1/2 inch in length, these spiders are active at night. The rear end is the widest part, with the center being smaller, and the head being very tiny. The head has a black streak. This spider looks like a small walking violin and is rare in the desert. The bite is usually unnoticed, but it is an ulcerous wound and extremely difficult to heal. Medical assistance may be necessary.
The honey bee has a barbed stinger that remains in the victim. The venom sacs are torn from the bee's body and remain attached to the stinger. Pinching the sac injects more venom. Do not try to pull out the stinger. Instead, scrape it out with a knife or another thin edge. There are more deaths annually from honey bee stings than from ALL other poisonous creatures combined. Hypersensitive persons or those sensitized by previous stings (anaphylaxis -hypersensitivity resulting from sensitization following prior contact with the causative agent), may have fatal reactions unless promptly treated. Application of ice to the site within minutes can prevent serious results. Always inform the physician of previous honey bee stings.
Tarantula, desert centipede
These are not dangerous, but the bite or sting is extremely painful. A tarantula MAY produce anaphylaxis.
Ants, velvet ants, wasps, hornets
These may cause a painful sting, but it is usually not dangerous. Pain can be reduced by using ice or strong household ammonia to the site of the sting.
Vinegaroon, solpugid, jerusalem cricket
These are not only harmless, but they are beneficial to man.
These are blood-suckers that may inject disease producing organisms.
In places where venoumous species are expected, always inspect clothing and bedding carefully before use, especially items that have been on or near the ground at night. Dampness also attracts these creatures. During summer evenings, scorpions travel over the desert floor and up the branches of trees and bushes seeking food. Bedding on the ground will provide them with a hiding place toward morning.
If bitten, DO NOT USE THE CUT AND SUCK METHOD. Apply a ligature and use ice. Remove the ligature after five minutes but continue with the ice. Always seek medical attention, especially if the victim is young, elderly, chronically ill, or has been bitten several times or on the main part of the body.