Why Is The Potentially Deadly Brown Widow Spider Species Becoming Prevalent In Urban And Residential Areas Of Louisiana?

If you had to name the most venomous spider species that exists within the United States, you would probably name either the black widow or the brown recluse species. While brown recluse spiders are certainly dangerous in their own right due to the necrotizing compounds found within their venom, no spider species in the US is more venomous than the black widow species. Although black widow spiders are almost universally known to American citizens, very few people are aware that the US is actually home to five species of widow spider. The widow spider that is the most venomous and most well known is the southern black widow spider. In addition to this widely distributed species, there also exists the northern black widow species, the western black widow species, the red widow species and the brown widow species. Of all these widow species, the brown widow is the least dangerous to humans, as they are relatively docile and often go to extremes in order to avoid humans. That being said, brown widow spiders are by no means harmless, as they still produce toxic venom that is known for sometimes causing medically significant effects in humans. This species is a relative newcomer to the United States where they are not native, but this species quickly established an extensive habitat in Louisiana where these spiders are commonly found within buildings, on park benches and in homes.

Reports of brown widow sightings began flooding into extension offices in Louisiana during the summer of 2012. That year, a Zachary woman nearly sustained a bite from this potentially deadly widow species before she spotted the spider on her door frame. It was not until after she killed the spider and searched for it on Google that she realized that the spider in her home was a brown widow species. According to professors with Louisiana State University’s Entomology Department, the brown widow suddenly appeared in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Once brown widows began appearing in large numbers within the state, they began to dwell within areas where experts had assumed they could not survive. Entomologist Dr. Dennis Ring claims that brown widows are not much different than black widows, only they are brown in color, as their common name makes clear. The Dr. also stated that brown widow bites are pretty serious and it can take a few days before bite symptoms become serious, but their venomous bites will most certainly cause skin to “rot”.

If you sustained a brown widow bite would you immediately report to an emergency room for treatment?


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