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Are There Any Tarantula Species That Attack Humans Without Provocation?

It is often claimed by experts that spiders, even the largest and most frightening looking, are largely harmless to humans. While it is true that most spider bites are not medically significant and only hurt as much as a bee sting, some spiders are downright deadly, and will not hesitate to attack a human. Most experts would disagree strongly with this claim, as it is common knowledge that spiders will not bite a human unless the spider feels threatened, is provoked or is mishandled. This may be the case when it comes to the vast majority of spiders, but the Australian funnel-web spider is certainly an exception.

One American study claims that the Australian funnel-web spider is the most dangerous spider on earth, and plenty of other researchers do not dispute this claim. It is not just its highly venomous bite that makes this particular spider species dangerous to humans, it is also their habit of attacking humans without provocation of any kind that makes them uniquely hazardous. Funnel-web spider bites are deadly to humans, but luckily, the introduction of an antivenom in the early 1980s drastically reduced the death rate from funnel-web spider bites. In severe cases of funnel-web envenomation, four vials of antivenom is necessary to save a human’s life. However, not long ago, a ten year old Australian boy required a massive dose of antivenom consisting of 12 vials after sustaining a bite from a funnel-web spider. Luckily, after being administered the antidote repeatedly, the boy survived.

In addition to being a serious health threat, funnel-web spider bites are also extremely painful on account of their large fangs and acidic venom. This exceptionally aggressive spider species will bite repeatedly and use its fangs to attach itself to skin, making it hard to brush these spiders away following a bite. Respiratory problems, spasms, seizures, vomiting and circulatory problems are just a few of the symptoms that a funnel-web bite victim can expect within 15 to 30 minutes following a bite. One case saw the death of a young boy within 15 minutes following a funnel-web bite. So no, spiders are not harmless!

Have you ever experienced secondary symptoms (other than pain at the site of the bite wound) following a bite from a spider?

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Black Widow Spiders Are Acclimating To The Growing Urban Environments In The Southwest US

Black Widow Spiders Are Acclimating To The Growing Urban Environments In The Southwest US

The southwest United States is home to a variety of venomous animals, such as rattlesnakes, scorpions and on some occasions, Africanized honey bees, or killer bees, as they are more commonly known. Considering that urban and suburban developments are expanding more rapidly in the southwest than in any other US region, animals are being displaced by urbanization at a particularly fast rate in the southwest. Although urbanization leads to environmental degradation and the disruption of native animal habitats, one particularly venomous animal group does not seem to be negatively affected by encroaching urban developments. Unfortunately for city-dwellers in the southwest, this animal happens to be the black widow spider.

Phoenix, Arizona is the country’s second fastest growing city, and as a consequence of this city’s rapid expansion into the natural environment, many desert-dwelling animals are being robbed of the resources they need to survive. However, black widow spiders are having no problem adjusting to big city life. As it happens, black widows are making the best of their new urban landscape. For example, researchers with Arizona State University have found that black widow populations in the city are denser than they are in the natural environment. Not only that, but urban black widows have larger body sizes than their rural counterparts. Black widow populations in the city are 10 to 15 times denser than rural populations, and it has been found that urban black widows are genetically dissimilar to rural black widows. This fact has led researchers to believe that urban black widows in Phoenix did not originate from the rural dessert; instead, it is now believed that they may have originated from another region located outside of the southwest.

Urban black widows are better off than rural black widows for many reasons. Urban landscapes offer black widows superior forms of shelter, a greater abundance of food and prey, and most importantly, typical predators of black widows, most notably parasitic wasps, have a difficult time surviving urban habitats, making the most significant predators a non-issue for urban black widow populations. Naturally, these highly venomous spiders are being spotted regularly within homes and buildings in Phoenix. So if you live in Phoenix or another city in the southwest, check your shoes before putting them on in the morning.

Do you think that urban black widows in Phoenix are mostly represented by a non-native variety of black widows?

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A Look Inside the Tarantula Black Market

A Look Inside the Tarantula Black Market

You wouldn’t think that tarantulas are a particularly valuable commodity, considering the fear they induce in most people due to their frightening appearance.  Why would anyone pay much money for an ugly, hairy spider? Who would want to actually keep one for fun as a pet? Well, you are in for a surprise because the illegal market for tarantulas is booming, and illegal activity involving tarantulas is only increasing over time. There are many people that are fascinated by these creatures and can’t get enough of them; and they are willing to pay insane amounts of money to add more to their collection.

The illegal tarantula trade may be a little known section of the black market, but it is rampant, and with people becoming more and more interested in exotic animals, it is steadily increasing. The expanding number of people traveling to places that have exotic tarantulas, the rising awareness of these creatures people have gained through social media, as well as the growing commercial interest in these and other exotic animals are fueling the illegal trade of tarantulas. Many scientists have reported a great deal of illegal activity in relation to tarantulas, and most believe it is fueled mostly by people that make a hobby out of collecting these exotic pets and are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for just one of these spiders.

The demand for tarantulas is growing rapidly, and traders are having to find ways to meet that growing demand. Traders are now having to hire locals to hunt down tarantulas in the wild. The captured spiders are then smuggled out and sold to collectors and breeders searching for the newest, most distinctive and exotic tarantulas on the black market. While some become pets, others are killed and mounted on display in a box or enveloped in resin. What makes tarantula poaching especially cruel is that these spiders are long-lived, with some reaching 30 years old, and the females procreate late in their life and infrequently. Poaching takes a serious toll on the tarantula population, and they take a long time to recover from these harvests. Scientists are afraid that this could have a much wider negative effect on our ecosystem in general, and other problems such as climate change and the destruction of their habitats are threatening their different species even more. Many of the most exotic and interesting tarantulas that people collect through the black market could end up being wiped out completely. The collectors buying the tarantulas may not have bad intentions, and actually have a love and appreciation for these exotic creatures. Unfortunately, that love could spell the end of their pets existence.

Do you know anyone that owns exotic tarantulas? How do they find ones to purchase, and do they know whether the seller obtained them legally?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Every Fall Some Residential Regions In The Southwest Are Overrun With Massive Herds Of Migrating Tarantulas

Every Fall Some Residential Regions In The Southwest Are Overrun With Massive Herds Of Migrating Tarantulas

It is well understood by most people that birds and flying insects, like butterflies, migrate south during the fall season in order to avoid the cold of the coming winter in the north. However, airborne animals are not the only organisms that migrate south for the winter, as tarantulas emerge from their burrows during the fall before migrating en masse southward through several towns and neighborhoods in the southwest. As you can imagine, these mass migrations are known for surprising and terrifying sensitive individuals living within the path of the migrating arachnids. In fact, many new homeowners in the southwest who have not spent much, or any time within the region have been known to panic upon witnessing the sudden appearance of thousands of tarantulas stampeding through their property. Pest control professionals, animal control officials and University pest extension experts all expect a plethora of panicked calls every fall from newcomers in the southwest who did not expect to see an enormous mass of furry tarantulas traversing through their neighborhood.

These massive migratory herds of tarantulas typically emerge during the month of September and October. Once November rolls around, residents of the southwest can expect more of these migratory herds to come through their area, only this time the herds are comprised entirely of male tarantulas that are traveling in search of mates, as November is the start of tarantula mating season in the southwest. While the males are traveling far and wide to find their soul mates, female tarantulas, which are much larger and more aggressive than males, sit waiting for their knights within the comfort of their burrows.

The largest amount of tarantulas, and therefore, the largest herds, can be seen in the dessert landscape of Nevada. However, spider herds can be seen traversing through the grassland and canyon landscapes of Colorado before moving on to more arid desert landscapes in states like Arizona, New Mexico and southern California. A recent study has found that these tarantula herds are first emerging at more northern longitudes with each passing year. Experts believe that global warming may be making more northern environments hospitable to tarantulas. So who knows? Maybe in fifty years migratory tarantula herds can be witnessed stampeding through Omaha.

Have you ever witnessed a migratory herd of tarantulas?

Why Researchers Are Fascinated With The Spider Species That Eats Only Termites

Why Researchers Are Fascinated With The Spider Species That Eats Only Termites

Animal Predators can be either picky or indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding choices. There does not exist any predators that can eat just anything, as every predator species has its own tastes. Researchers have also never discovered any predatory animals that only consume one single species, except for one. Recently researchers discovered the very first monophagous true predator, which is a predator that consumes only one particular species of animal. The predator in question is a type of spider that belongs to the Ammoxenidae genus. Researchers have demonstrated that at least one spider species in the Ammoxenidae family preys upon, and consumes only one termite species. This termite species is known as Hodotermes mossambicus.

The Hodotermes mossambicus species of termite is more commonly referred to as the harvester termite, and they can be highly destructive to grassland and other forms of vegetation. Ammoxenid spiders live both in and out of soil and they are sometimes called sand divers due to their ability to dive headfirst into the ground when threatened. Since these termites and spiders both inhabit South African soil, they naturally encounter each other often, and these encounters never end well for the harvester termites. The spiders are always found to be concentrated in regions that are also highly populated with harvester termites, as the harvesters are their only food source. Ammoxenid spiders are able to detect termites either through vibrations or chemical cues. Once a young Ammoxenid spider is given its first harvester termite prey, the spider picks up on tactile cues from this initial encounter in order to locate more harvester termites on its own in the future.

The spider will first attack a harvester by biting one in between its head and cephalothorax. The harvester is then pulled beneath the soil’s surface where it is sucked of all its innards. Since harvester termites are not active year round, the spiders must collect enough harvester prey to keep on reserve during the termites off season. The spiders collect extra harvester termites by placing them in silken sacs for later consumption. The Ammoxenid spiders and their silken sacs are often found habitating abandoned harvester termite mounds.

Do you think that there are more spiders or insects that prey upon one particular species, but scientist have yet to discover them?

 

 

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Bites From Old World Tarantulas Can Be Deadly Due To Their Need To Compensate For A Lack Of Defensive Features

 

Tarantula spiders are divided into two categories: old world tarantulas and new world tarantulas. Old world tarantulas include the tarantulas that lack urticating hairs, and instead rely on nothing more than their venomous bites for defense. Old world tarantulas get their name from being more common in Asia and Africa. New world spiders are largely limited to the Americas and they comprise spiders that possess urticating hairs in addition to fangs that deliver venom. New world tarantulas are able to fling their abdominal hairs into their enemies faces, which causes severe irritation in humans. These defensive hairs are known as urticating hairs, and many tarantula owners must exercise caution in order to avoid them. Old world tarantula venom is typically more potent than new world tarantula venom, as old world tarantulas have no other method of defense available to them when faced with enemies. This makes old world tarantula bites relatively dangerous to humans. In fact, sustaining a bite from an old world tarantula can cause muscle spasms, cramps and eventual death unless an antivenom is administered to a human victim in time.

People all over the world keep and breed tarantulas as pets, and the creatures are typically dismissed by experts as being harmless. Most pet tarantulas are new world specimens and while their urticating hairs can cause allergic reactions in humans, medical literature describes the consequences of their bite in humans as being trivial. However, this is not the case with old world tarantulas, as one study described two old world tarantula owners who suffered severe medical problems following a bite from the Lampropelma nigerrimum and Pterinochilus murinus species. The two men experienced identical symptoms, which included severe localized swelling and persistent and agonizingly painful muscle cramps that lasted more than a week. A third man who sustained a bite from the old world Poecilotheria regalis species developed muscle spasms in addition to the symptoms experienced by the other two men. According to researchers, the toxic effects of old world tarantula venom has been documented but largely ignored in medical literature. Although antivenom for old world tarantula bites do exist, researchers have yet to uncover the particular toxins responsible for the serious medical symptoms that result from their bites. Discovering these toxins would be of great scientific and therapeutic benefit.

Have you ever sustained a bite from a pet tarantula?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Residents From 48 States Sent Brown Recluse Spiders To A Researcher Who Claimed That Their Habitat Is Limited To Only A Few States

Brown recluse spiders are among the most well known of all arachnids, which is understandable considering the deadly reputation that the spiders have generated during the past several decades. The brown recluse group of spiders started to become well known in America during the late 1950s when the first medical reports describing this spider’s potentially deadly bite became available to the public. These early medical reports, as well as several subsequent reports, described how brown recluse bites can sometimes lead to necrotizing infections at the site of the bite wound. Although many Americans have heard of brown recluse spiders, very few are able to recognize them. A study in the Journal of Entomology clearly demonstrated that a vast majority of Americans are convinced that they know what brown recluse spiders look like, despite identifying the wrong spiders as brown recluses. For one thing, brown recluse spiders are only endemic within a handful of American states. Despite this fact, residents of 48 states sent the author of the study brown recluse specimens in order to prove that they can accurately identify the spiders within their home state. Consequently, the researcher received spider specimens that were not brown recluses, and many of the specimens did not even resemble the notorious spiders.

Considering the numerous studies that have been published on brown recluse spiders in America, researchers are certain that this spider’s distribution only lies within the southernmost states as well as a few midwestern states. Although the study’s author claimed that brown recluse spiders do not exist within states located in America’s northern, northeastern or northwestern territories, residents of all the states located within these regions attempted to prove him wrong by sending their own captured brown recluse specimens. Of course, the participants sent the wrong spiders, but this was a part of the study.

The researcher challenged Americans in each state to locate and submit brown recluse specimens that they had captured. The lead researcher did this in order to determine if any brown recluse species migrated to any new states. Based on the submissions, the answer to this question was “no.” The second question that the study’s lead researcher was attempting to answer was where the brown recluse is perceived to exist by the American public, and the answer to this question is “everywhere.” Despite the fear many americans have toward brown recluse spiders, it turns out that Americans are surprisingly ignorant of the brown recluse spiders’ distribution and appearance.

Do you think that you would be able to accurately identify a brown recluse species?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Which Venomous Arthropods Are Considered The Deadliest In America?

Which Venomous Arthropods Are Considered The Deadliest America?

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There is no shortage of online articles and blogs that discuss dangerous insects and spiders. Despite how commonly this topic is covered, there seems to be disagreement among experts concerning which arthropods are truly the most dangerous to humans. This is partly due to the fact that “dangerous” is not the same as “deadly,” and arthropods differ in the types of injuries that they inflict. For example, not all arthropod bites are dangerous solely because of the toxic venom that they transmit, as deadly infections can also develop in bite wounds that are inflicted by arthropods with relatively benign forms of venom. The rate of venomous arthropod fatalities is also increasing dramatically in the United States. Africanized honey bee attacks are becoming more frequent and they are far more venomous than many other arthropods, but these bees did not even exist in America prior to the 1960s. Also, medical technology is changing the statistics on arthropod fatalities, as people with venom allergies now carry emergency epinephrine shots known commonly as epipens. These devices save many human lives that would otherwise have been lost to venomous arthropod injuries. Between 2008 and 2016, an average of 86 deaths occurred each year as a result of venomous animal attacks, but only 46 fatalities of this sort occurred between 1950 and 1959. Considering these factors, declaring one single arthropod as “the most dangerous” is not as clear cut as it may seem.

Between 2001 and 2013 an average of seven people died each year from spider bites. Most of these deaths were caused by brown recluse bites, as no antivenom yet exists to treat brown recluse bites. Between 1999 and 2007 only five people were killed from stings inflicted by Arizona bark scorpions. Children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are the only groups of people that are at risk of dying from bark scorpion stings. Bees and wasps are easily the most deadly types of arthropods, as they were responsible for a total of 509 deaths between 1999 and 2007. Yellowjackets and Africanized bees are the most aggressive of this group, and if their nests are disturbed, they can swarm for a full 24 hours, attacking every human and animal in sight.

Have you ever found a brown recluse spider in your home? Did you mercifully transport it outdoors? Or did you kill it?

Spider Sightings Increase in Fall Months

Spider Sightings Increase in Fall Months | Phoenix Spider Control Experts

Spiders aren’t a seasonal pest, but many homeowners tend to notice an increased presence in their homes in the early fall months as the arachnids become more obvious while they search for a mate. Even though most spider species in the United States don’t pose health risks to humans, most people aren’t comfortable with any species sharing their living space. Magic Pest Control reminds homeowners that the best way to prevent spider infestations is to remove harborage sites within their homes.

Spiders seek out secluded, undisturbed areas where they can build a web to catch their next meal, which means attics, basements and seldom used closets could be harboring these pests. Spiders can also crawl into homes through damaged window screens or cracks in the siding, meaning homeowners should conduct periodic checks of these areas to reduce spider problems.

It’s important to note that the black widow and brown recluse spiders are two species found in the United States that do pose health risks to humans when disturbed or feeling threatened.

The brown recluse spider typically does not bite humans unless threatened, but their bites can be painful and result in open sores. Measuring about a half inch with a dark brown violin marking on its back, brown recluse spiders build their webs in warm, dry and dark environments, notably basements and closets. Similarly, black widow spiders do not bite humans instinctively. However, when they do bite, they can cause extremely painful bites, especially for children and the elderly. Recognized for its red hourglass shape under the abdomen, these spiders spin their webs close to the ground and are most often found in woodpiles and undisturbed areas.

Magic Pest Control offers the following tips to help prevent contact with spiders:

  • Avoid keeping clothing and shoes on the floor, especially if in an area known for spiders; consider storing inside plastic containers.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around the home.
  • Vacuum/sweep away webs in and around the home.
  • Shake out all clothing that has been in the laundry basket before wearing/washing.
  • Keep garages, attics and basements clean and clutter free.
  • If a spider bites you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
  • If you have an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest control professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.