What are the dangerous spiders in Kentucky?

Gay Fulkerson, MD

Brown recluse and black widow spiders are the dangerous spiders found in Kentucky. Most insect bites are not dangerous. The brown recluse likes warm dark places and is frequently found when cleaning or getting into clothes that have been stored in a dark place. Shake out all clothes before wearing to reduce the risk of being bitten. The brown recluse can be identified by the fiddle on the back and some folks call them a fiddler because of this mark. The bite site will turn black and fall out within two to three days. See a physician quickly to try to avoid this. Medicines such as Keflex, steroids and dapsone have been used to stop the body from reacting to the fluids the spider injects under the skin. These bites have been confused with a staph. skin infection. A culture may be needed to determine the cause of the lesion, especially if the lesion appears and the spider was not seen. Brown recluse bites can become severe and require multiple surgeries to close the skin. The best course of action is see your physician as soon as possible.

The black widow has an hour glass on the back in one of the three species found in Kentucky. The black widow injects a toxin that affects muscles and causes muscle spasms which can be severe 20 minutes to one hour after the bite. The female can bite humans whereas the male cannot. She is aggressive and will protect her turf especially her eggs and she is frequently found in wood piles and in outdoor structures. Go to the Emergency Room if you are bitten by a black widow. These bites are usually found on the forearms and hands. Be safe this weekend and watch out for these two spiders. The other spiders you may see do an excellent job of getting rid of other insects that annoy you.

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