spider 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (11/4/13) – Halloween may be over, but the spiders are still out in full force. With the winter months upon us and temperatures dropping by the day, these eight-legged creatures are looking to stay warm, and what better place to do it than in the comfort of your own home.

Spiders are notorious for sneaking into homes when winter sets in. While it's easy to assume that any spider we see is the most poisonous monster known to man, the reality of it is, many spiders we come across are harmless. However, let's not take our chances.

Let's imagine the worst case scenario. A spider gets into your home, and takes a hunk out of you. Again, few spiders are dangerous to humans. According to an article written by the staff of the Mayo Clinic on mayoclinic.com (click here to visit the page), two dangerous spiders that are present in the United States are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. You can identify a black widow spider by the red hourglass marking on its stomach. The brown recluse can be identified by a violin shaped marking on its back.

The Mayo Clinic staff said a bite from a black widow, while serious, is rarely lethal. The bite feels like a pinprick, and sometimes can go unnoticed. Signs and symptoms you've been bitten by a black widow are slight swelling and faint red marks, followed by intense pain and stiffness hours later. Other symptoms include chills, fever, nausea and vomiting and severe abdominal pain.

A fluid filled blister forms at the site of a brown recluse bite, said the Mayo Clinic staff. The blister turns into a deep, enlarging ulcer. Reactions vary from a mild fever and rash to nausea and listlessness. On rare occasions, death results, more often in children.

If you are bitten by a spider, it is best to try and identify the type of spider that bit you. Clean the site of the spider bite with soap and water. Apply a cool compress to the bite location. If the bite is on an extremity, elevate it. Aspirin or acetaminophen (including Tylenol) and antihistamines may be used to relieve minor signs and symptoms in adults. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers,
said the Mayo Clinic staff.

If you know the spider bite is from a black widow or brown recluse, follow these steps also provided by the article from the Mayo Clinic website:

1.Cleanse the wound. Use soap and water to cleanse the wound and skin around the spider bite.
2.Slow the venom's spread. If the spider bite is on an arm or a leg, tie a snug bandage above the bite and elevate the limb to help slow or halt the venom's spread. Ensure that the bandage is not so tight that it cuts off circulation in your arm or leg.
3.Use a cold cloth at the spider bite location. Apply it dampened with cold water or filled with ice.
4.Seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for the bite of a black widow may require an anti-venom medication. Doctors may treat a brown recluse spider bite with various medications.

Hopefully, you'll never have to put any of these steps into action. But, that does not mean you can't fight back at these frightening intruders in your home. There are a number of precautions you can take to prevent spiders from entering in the first place. Here are some natural ways to keep spiders from entering your home via naturallivingideas.com:

•Fill a spray bottle with peppermint essential oil and water, and then spray it around your home. Allegedly, spiders hate peppermint.
•Use vinegar. Much like the peppermint oil, fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water and spray all the cracks and crevices around your home. It may not smell as good as peppermint, but it keeps the spiders away.
•Keep your home neat, tidy, and free of dust or webs. Regular vacuuming, dusting, and de-cluttering will keep any insects from making themselves at home.
•Get a cat. Cats are great hunters of spiders, and will not let a spider crawl across the floor without stopping them in their tracks.
•Make sure the exterior of your home is free from leaves, grass clippings, woodpiles on any other area that would attract a spider.
•Rubbing citrus peels on areas where spiders are known to frequent, like baseboards, windowsills and bookshelves, is another great way to keep spiders out of your home.
•Cedar can be a great deterrent against spiders. Using cedar mulch outside around the perimeter of your home can keep spiders from ever getting inside. Buying items that are cedar, like cedar hangers or a cedar chest is also a good choice. Placing cedar blocks or shavings inside closets, cupboards, or drawers will work as well.
•Chestnuts have been known to draw away spiders. Placing a few in your windowsills or along your baseboards can keep spiders from hanging out there.
•The strangest method, by far, is using tobacco. Sprinkle small pieces of tobacco where spiders are troublesome, or soak tobacco in water and spray the mixture around the house.

These creatures may be small in size, but they have the power to scare even the toughest of people. Following these precautions can help keep you and your family safe from the venomous types of spiders. Keep an eye out for these easily unnoticed and potentially dangerous insects. You never know when one may be staring right at you.

David Gillum
SurfKY News
Information provided by mayoclinic.com, naturallivingideas.com
Photo provided by University of Kentucky College of Agriculture via ca.uky.edu.

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