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It’s spider season. Know which dangerous spiders to avoid across the U.S.

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When you’re outside exploring, there’s always a chance that something will bite you. It might be a mosquito. Or a horsefly. Possibly ants. Or you might be unlucky enough to be bitten by an arachnid! Even its scientific name sounds ominous: Spiders! Eek! Nobody wants to be bitten by a spider.

Within six feet?

It’s been said that no matter where you are, there’s a spider within six feet of you. While this statement has been called a myth, it still is true that our world is chock-full of spiders. Who’s most at risk for spider bites? What are the symptoms of a spider bite? What should you do if bitten by an arachnid? How can RVers prevent spiders from invading their rigs’ interiors? Let’s take those questions one at a time.

Who’s at risk for spider bites?

While anyone can be bitten by a spider, some folks are more at risk because of certain behaviors. RVers, for example, often spend much of their time outdoors. We hike, we bike and we like to sit outside talking to fellow RVers. We also work around and below our rigs, often coming into contact with leaves, grass, and other places where spiders typically live. This puts us more at risk of a spider bite than perhaps other folks.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, most spiders are harmless and rarely bite people. While all spiders produce venom (a toxin), many spiders’ fangs are too small to puncture people’s skin. That said, children are most at risk from adverse spider bite reactions and should be monitored closely if a spider bite is suspected. Always, when in doubt, call your doctor or go to the emergency room for a professional opinion and possible treatment.

Spider bite symptoms

Spiders want to avoid humans just as much as we prefer to avoid them. However, like many creatures, spiders will bite if they feel threatened. Not all spider bites are cause for alarm. In fact, you may mistakenly blame a mosquito for a spider’s bite.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are dangerous spiders to watch out for, like:

The brown recluse

Symptoms for its bite may include mild pain, fever, chills, body aches, and a deep blue or purple area around the bite, which may develop a red ring around it.

Black widow

Symptoms for the bite of a black widow spider may include redness, pain and swelling, difficulty breathing, severe abdominal rigidity or cramping, nausea, vomiting, tremors, or sweating.

Hobo spider

The bite from a hobo spider does not immediately cause pain, like other dangerous arachnids. Instead, a victim may experience a severe headache within minutes or even hours after being bitten; skin hardening at the bite area within 30 minutes; red, swollen skin with pus-filled blister; fatigue; nausea; and memory problems.

What to do about a spider bite?

If you happen to see the spider that bit you, put it in a jar or plastic zipper bag. Take it along with you to the doctor. A physician may be better able to identify the spider and the appropriate treatment if s/he sees it.

For non-poisonous spider bites, you can…

  • Clean the bite area with soap and warm water.
  • Apply a cold cloth or ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Elevate the bite area, if possible.
  • Take an antihistamine to ease swelling and itching.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, as needed.
  • Always seek professional help for severe symptoms.

Keep spiders away when outside

  • Wear gloves when carrying firewood, moving rocks, or working where you may disturb a spider’s habitat.
  • When in wooded areas, wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Shake out jackets, hats, and gloves that have been stored in your RV basement before bringing them inside the RV.
  • Wear the appropriate insect repellent when outdoors.
  • Spray insecticide around the perimeter and under your RV. This will help eliminate the spiders’ food source: insects.

Keep spiders out of your RV

  • Seal any openings where spiders and their food source (insects) may be entering your rig.
  • Vacuum and dust regularly.
  • Fix torn window/door screens.
  • Apply Terro Spider Killer or Ortho Home Defense to eliminate spider nests along with their inhabitants. If you have pets or children, you may want to choose a non-toxic treatment like Mighty Mint Insect and Pest Control spray. All are available on Amazon.
  • Make your own spider treatment. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. Spray the mixture around doors and windows where spiders may gain entry into your RV. Also, spray areas where you’ve seen spiders or their webs.

Spider resource

Here’s a great resource for you: USA Spiders by State. This site will identify a spider for you if you send in its photo. You can also use the site to discover what spiders are found in each of the United States—very helpful as you travel in your RV.

Got a spider story for us? Please share in the comments below.

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Samuel Yates
1 month ago

Well now I know which Spiders are the worst, but only know what 1 looks like. A few pics would have made this article GREAT.
thanks. just my thought Sam

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Yates

Hi, Samuel. If you click on the link in the article to USA Spiders by State, they have pictures of the spiders in there. Have a good day. 😀 –Diane

Scott R. Ellis
1 month ago

Before you get too excited about hobo spiders, it would be a good idea to read this:
https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/spiders/hobo-spiders/

Ron L
1 month ago

Several years ago I was bitten by a Hobo spider at our motorhome resort in Newport Oregon. Symptoms described above are spot on. The pus filled blister on my left index finger was about the size of a dime. No pain to speak of and I didn’t think too much about it as I figured it would just go away much like a mosquito or ant bite. Nope, unfortunately it got infected and the next morning my hand was swollen up like a catcher’s mitt. Went to the local ER and they immediately put me in the hospital and hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics. Newport’s hospital (at that time) was just a satellite hospital and the Doc decided I needed more expert care as the swelling had now enveloped my wrist and you could see how the infection was traveling up my arm in the blood vessels. Traveled by ambulance 50 miles to Corvallis and started me on multiple antibiotics trying to find one that worked. Two days later, complete left arm was swollen and a deep purple and the Orthopaedic surgeon was

Ron L
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron L

(continuing) mumbling about amputation…. Fortunately, on the 5th day at Corvallis, they finally found an antibiotic that worked and the swelling/discoloration started to subside and I was finally allowed to take a shower (boy did I stink) and two days later, was able to go home with just a minor sore on my finger.

Granted, if I had taken precautions on cleaning the bite instead of continuing working in our flower garden, it may not have gotten infected…..maybe. In any case, that little spider really did a number on me and you can bet that I now wear gloves when ever working in the garden. Sure don’t want to go through that again.

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron L

What an ordeal, Ron. Glad it turned out ok though.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

I am disappointed you did not include tarantulas in your list, but maybe only skipped because you are concentrating on spider bites. Tarantula’s defenses are mainly its hairs, which it rapidly scrapes from its body and flings at you. These hairs are basically fiberglass, which can cause at best an itch if it penetrates your skin, or worse if the spider hair is carrying germs or molds on iits hairs. Contact with the eyes, or accidental inhalation- as might happen if someone is trying to tease one out of its burrow and get down really close look at it- don’t laugh. I was ASM of a Boy Scout Troop for years and have seen some pretty6 stupid stunts pulled in the wilderness jungle of Florida.

Pammy
1 month ago

Hmmm, tarantulas in Florida must be very different from our California ones. The California tarantula is a very docile native spider. Tarantulas are not poisonous to humans, though like all spiders they have venom that is effective on small arthropods for subduing their prey.

Scott R. Ellis
1 month ago
Reply to  Pammy

He pretty specifically said he wasn’t talking about venom (bites).

Tom E
1 month ago

My wife & I have discussed keeping ants and spiders out of our RV. Thanks for the information on the Ortho Home Defense.

John S
1 month ago

An article about knowing which spiders to avoid would have been infinitely more helpful if it included pictures of these particularly dangerous ones. Seldom have I seen spiders wearing name tags…

Willa R
1 month ago
Reply to  John S

Follow the link in this article called USA Spiders by State. It has excellent information and pictures of dangerous and not dangerous spiders.

John S
1 month ago
Reply to  Willa R

I realize that there are thousands of websites with pictures of spiders but I’m just saying that pictures included in the original article would have made it much more valuable.