Many organic gardeners are concerned about spiders. The good news is that spiders are beneficial as they help keep other insect populations under control. However, it is important to take the appropriate precautions to ensure avoiding being bitten by a spider while gardening.
Can spiders bite through garden gloves? No, spiders in North America are not able to bite through a pair of garden gloves as their fangs are entirely too small. Indeed, the fangs of most spiders are so small that they are unable to penetrate clothing of any kind. Best of all, few varieties of spiders have fangs that are long enough to pierce human skin.
Today, we are going to discuss the best way to avoid spider bites, symptoms of a spider bite, and the appropriate first aid steps to take. We will also discuss some of the common misconceptions regarding spider bites.
Avoiding Spider Bites
Garden spiders are not aggressive creatures and will attempt to flee before resorting to an attack. However, in the rare event one does attack, the resulting bite is usually less painful than a bee sting. However, it is always preferable to avoid the possibility of sustaining a spider bite in the first place.
Only two different types of spiders are categorized as venomous in the United States: black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders. (Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
|Geography||Markings||Usually Found||Bite Characteristics|
|Black Widow Spiders||Black widow spiders can be found throughout the entire North American Continent. However, they are most commonly found in the southern and western portions of the United States.||Black widow spiders are commonly identified by the red hourglass-shaped coloration on the underside of their abdomen.||Black widows are usually found in undisturbed areas such as beneath leaves, next to fences and in other areas where debris such as mulch is plentiful.||Black widow bites are easily distinguished by two puncture marks left on the skin. Symptoms of black widow spider bites include pain and swelling, severe stomach cramps, chills, nausea, and sweating. (Source: the Mayo Clinic)|
|Brown Recluse Spiders||Brown recluse spiders are most frequently found in the midwestern and southern portions of the United States. However, they can be found throughout all of North America.||Brown recluse spiders are brown and are easily identified by a characteristic violin-shaped marking on its head. Additionally, brown recluse spiders have six eyes as opposed to other spiders that typically have eight.||Brown recluse spiders are usually found beneath leaves, mulch, logs, and piles of rocks. They can also be found indoors in dark closets, attics, and in shoes.||Brown recluse bite signs include red skin that is often followed by blistering. Symptoms of brown recluse spider bites include chills, fever, and body aches. These symptoms typically only increase for about eight hours, and the bite heals on its own after about a week.|
Fortunately, the fangs of both black widow and brown recluse spiders are too small to penetrate clothing of any kind. (Sources: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Colorado State University Extension) For that reason, wearing a good pair of garden gloves is one of the best ways to avoid receiving spider bites while working in any organic garden.
Garden gloves can be purchased in a variety of styles. There are great options for both children and adults. Some are designed to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and others are extra long to keep your forearms covered.
You can find a good variety of garden gloves we recommend from our Favorite Products Page – Best Garden Tools. Any of these gloves would be great for preventing spider bites while working in the garden.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28
Spider Bite Symptoms
Although spider bite symptoms can range from mild to severe, most spider bites resemble any other insect bite. Sometimes spider bite symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed.
Spider bites can include any of the following symptoms:
- Body aches
- Dark blue or purple discoloration around the bite
- Difficulty breathing
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased saliva and sweating
- Light Sensitivity
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness and tingling around the bite site
- Pain radiating from the bite
- Red welt
- Stomach or abdominal cramping
- Swelling around the bite
- Swollen lymph glands
Spider Bite First Aid
- Clean the bite location using soap and water;
- Elevate the area of the bite to help reduce swelling;
- Apply an ice pack or a cool damp cloth to the affected area;
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl to help reduce itching and an over-the-counter pain reliever as necessary;
- Apply an antibiotic ointment to the bite location to help prevent infection;
- Observe the spider bite for discoloration, blistering, or signs of infection.
Seek prompt medical attention if any of the following are true:
- The bite came from a black widow or brown recluse spider;
- If it is unclear whether or not the bite came from a venomous spider;
- Severe abdominal cramping or severe pain at the site of the bite is experienced;
- An ulcer or blister is growing at the site of the bite;
- Loss of breath or difficulty breathing is experienced;
- Signs of infection are visible at the bite site;
- If symptoms of a spider bite don’t go away after a few days.
Misconceptions About Spider Bites
Many misunderstandings are out there regarding spider bites. For example, studies show that many bites that are attributed to spiders are actually the result of other venomous insects such as bees, wasps, hornets, fleas, ticks, and scorpions.
Below are four other misconceptions or myths associated with spiders.
1. Spider bites always leave fang marks: Many people believe that evidence of a spider bite is two fang marks. Although spiders do have two fangs, most of them are so small that the separation between the two bites is rarely visible to the human eye. (Souce: the Burke Museum)
2. Spiders are aggressive and want to bite humans: Spiders are actually quite shy and typically only bite humans when they are trapped or pinned down. Usually, they retreat when confronted by someone. (Source: Public Radio International)
3. Daddy-long-legs are deadly: Many people claim that daddy-long-legs are the most deadly spider in the world, but they are harmless to humans because their fangs are too small to penetrate our skin. However, daddy-long-legs aren’t even spiders, and they don’t have fangs. (Source: St. Edward’s University)
4. Black widow spider bites are deadly: One of the most common myths about spider bites involved the so-called “deadly” bite of the black widow spider. In reality, bites from these spiders are rarely ever fatal and typically only affect the sick, the elderly and young children. In fact, in many instances, black widow spiders deliver a “dry” or non-venomous bite. Black widows typically only inject venom when biting prey they intend to eat. (Sources: CBS News and Science Direct)
The Bottom Line
We hope our article discussing spider bites was informative for organic gardening at home. God has a purpose for all bugs and insects in the garden so we should learn to appreciate them all even if they sometimes pose as a threat to us humans.
We can protect our hands with gloves if we feel certain bugs like spiders may exist in the garden and be a threat.