Saturday, February 12, 2011

Unusual Cause of Death - Black Widow Bite

Located at Anderson Cemetery in Anderson, MO.
Sadly he missed the Black Widow anti-venom by only 6 years.
General O. Ostrander
1875 - 1950

Bite and mashed Black Widow Spider on right side and back.
Death Certificate located at Missouri Digital Heritage.
Black Widow Spider

Immature Black Widow

  • An effective anti-venom was developed in 1956.
  • The Back Widow Spider can inflict a painful bite which can be fatal, especially to the young and elderly. 
  • Death is uncommon (less than 1% of the reported cases), but in the elderly or very young death may occur from asphyxia 14-32 hours after being bitten.
  • A small amount of venom can cause serious illness, as the poison attacks the nervous system. Systemic envenomisation usually results in headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, pyrexia and hypertension.
  • The immature black widow look nothing like the adult spider and can be mistaken for beneficial spiders like the Theridion Immature black widows are smaller than the adults and do not have the black color typical of the adults. Immature black widows range in color from yellowish to a light brown with a pattern of white and brown bands and spots on the dorsal side. The hour glass mark is not red at this stage; it will appear white or be completely missing. As the immature molts, it gains more and more of the black pigment until reaches adulthood and acquires its typical black color. It is very difficult to distinguish male from female at this stage since they appear identical.

1 comment:

  1. I was once bitten by a very small spider that I was attempting to rescue from the bath tub, I had often rescued it's much larger cousins from similar circumstances, with nothing more than my bare hands.
    Obviously my act of compassion was not appreciated by the arachnid and I was really surprised by the force with which something so insignificant bit me, so now I always use a cloth or paper etc, to set them free.
    Luckily there are no venomous spiders in England and so I was quite safe.