Hot and arid Reno, Nevada, is home to four species of venomous spiders. One, the tarantula, is poisonous, but no one has ever died from its bite. Spider bites are uncommon, and most of them are not deadly. Three spiders native to the Reno area can produce some localized discomfort and overall illness when they bite humans, but death is a rare occurrence.
The western black widow spider native to the Reno region is called the Latrodectus hesperus. The female is about one-fifth of an inch long and is a glossy deep black color with a red marking on its bottom half in the shape of an hourglass. The male is slightly smaller and not considered dangerous. The web of a black widow spider resembles a cobweb. When approached, the black widow will usually retreat unless it is protecting egg sacs.
Brown Widow Spider
Latrodectus geometricus is the scientific name given to the brown widow spider. This spider is tan to brown colored with the hourglass shape usually much darker, almost black. The top of the brown widow spider has white or red spots. Its legs usually have yellow and brown bands around it. Only the female is considered dangerous. This spider is nocturnal and rarely seen during daylight hours. The brown widow will make webs around outdoor furniture, grills, under decks and inside garages. The brown widow typically bites only as a defensive measure.
Desert Recluse Spider
A relative of the brown recluse spider, the desert recluse spider's scientific name is Loxosceles deserta. Both male and female assume the same size — about half an inch long. The desert recluse sports an even yellow- to tan-colored body, with no specific markings. These spiders possess the unique feature of three pairs of eyes. The brown recluse's bite can cause severe damage to human skin, producing a sore that is often slow to heal.
Symptoms of Spider Bites
Generally speaking, the bite from a black or brown widow will feel similar to pinprick, or the person might not even know he has been bitten. Two small puncture wounds may be visible. The bite site may experience swelling, redness and a burning sensation similar to a bee sting. A desert recluse bite may cause severe pain up to eight hours later. The person may also experience a rash, headache, fever, joint pain, nausea or abdominal pain. Black widow bites are very rarely deadly, and only a few deaths have been associated with the desert recluse spider bite.
What to Do if Bitten
If bitten by a spider, wash the site and apply a cool compress. Take over-the-counter pain medications to treat discomfort, and seek medical attention at any sign of a reaction, such as swelling, fever or a rash.