Can spider bites be avoided?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Margot, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    At this time of year especially, I cannot go out in my garden without coming back in with one or more spider bite. My husband tells me to wear gloves but about the only place I do not get bites is on my hands.

    So far, I haven't been bitten by anything that doesn't produce only a very itchy, oozy, red spot which lasts for weeks.

    Neighbours say there are black widows and brown recluse spiders in the area so I guess I've been lucky not to have encountered any of them.

    What I'm wondering is any knows of a product such as a spray or cream I could apply that deters spiders.
     
  2. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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  3. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Thanks for your suggestions, Sulev. You must be happy that spiders don't bite is Estonia or, if they try, their fangs aren't strong enough to penetrate our skin.
     
  4. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    Margot, are you sure that spiders are biting you? In my 45 years living in Burnaby and hiking (including bushwacking) all over southwestern BC, I can't recall a single spider bite. I do get occasional itchy bites under clothing from an uncertain critter; but I attribute them to fleas, because they are not places that a spider could easily reach.
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Ditto to Vitog - highly unlikely to be spider bites. Mosquitos, midges, fleas, ticks all far more likely.
     
  6. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    I too lived in Burnaby for almost 60 years and can't recall ever being bitten by a spider - lots of mosquitos and sometimes fleas though.
    Take a look at my photo - that bite took at about 3 weeks to disappear. Most are not that bad but most develop craters after a few days.
    After saying earlier that I don't usually get bites on my hands, this photo shows I do.
     

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  7. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    I've never seen a spider bite; so I don't know if your bite looks like one. Have you ever seen a spider that has just bitten? If a spider were to actually bite you, I'd expect that you would feel it immediately and would see it; they can't fly away.
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    No, I haven't seen a spider actually bite me - too busy pulling weeds amongst rocks and grassy places where they live. Just asking for trouble, I know. I never feel any pain either and, in fact, often don't notice the bite until hours after I've been back in the house. (There are spiders in the house too and you can be sure I'm not transporting them back outdoors.)

    Your comment that you don't know what a bite looks like prompted me to do some checking online and, long story short, I'm wondering if I'm being bitten by Hobo spiders. There are certainly lots of their webs (or what I assume to be their webs) in my garden. I think the web I've attached may be a Hobo Spider web. From the pictures, my bites look more like Brown Recluse Spider bites but apparently we don't have them in this area.

    But, I can rule out mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, midges and ants so what else is left?

    Photos of spider bites: 7 Pictures Of Common Spider Bites And How To Treat Symptoms
     

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  9. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    The fact that you don't feel any pain probably rules out spiders as the culprits. Spider bites should be quite painful because they are not accompanied by an anasthetic like the bites of blood-suckers. You would know immediately that you were being bitten. However, I can't offer any suggestions about what could cause a bite that looks like the photograph. The only thing that I can think of that might look similar is a horsefly bite, but they are very painful.
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Thanks for your interest in my mystery bites. I've been reading a lot online since your last message and see that it is actually not uncommon for spider bites to be painless. By process of elimination, I still think I am being bitten by spiders.

    I remember a former doctor, many years ago, telling me that mosquito bites eventually stop feeling itchy after you've acquired enough. I didn't believe him until much later when I noticed that I didn't feel mosquito bites itch anymore. Where I live now, there are virtually no mosquitoes. Whatever is biting me causes bites that are incredibly itchy for days on end.
     
  11. pmurphy

    pmurphy Contributor 10 Years

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    My mother lives NW of 100 Mile House and claims there is some sort of very small flying insect similar to no-see-ums that feeds on humans and animals alike but you don't feel the bite right away. She says she usually notices the blood from the bite first (or it's pointed out by someone else). Then later on the itching starts and will last for many days, and the wound size seems to be way of out proportion to the culprit (I've been a victim of these creatures as well and have no clue as to which of the seemly millions of small flying insects it actually is), so perhaps you too are being bitten by some type of biting midge.
     
  12. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Thanks to all of you who have weighed in on my spider bite challenge. Although I cannot definitively rule out the possibility of something else causing the bites, I am still convinced they are spiders and not mosquitoes, fleas, midges and certainly not ticks. Maybe there's a new kind of spider lurking around here that I would hope may eventually be discovered and called 'Spideris margotis'.

    My initial question is still unanswered though, which is whether spider bites can be prevented? When I go to work in my grassy, rocky areas now, I wear as much protective clothing as I can and even put elastic bands around my pants at the ankles. Is there any other prevention besides wearing a chestnut necklace and bracelets? Would Deet help? I guess there's no harm in trying Deet . . .
     
  13. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    I just read a National Geographic article that applies to this old thread. I don't know if this website can be viewed https://www.nationalgeographic.com/...rial::add=Daily_NL_Wednesday_Science_20240117 , but here is the relevant portion:
    Myth: Spiders are out to bite us
    Most people will never be bitten by a spider in their lifetime.

    That’s because spiders are not interested in interacting with humans. Out of the 50,000+ species roaming the planet, very few ever come in contact with us. They’re not bloodsucking—like mosquitoes, ticks, or bedbugs—so they don’t seek us out.

    Although it’s common to wake up with small skin bumps and sores and blame a spider, there’s almost always no reason to believe a spider is responsible for the prick, says Dimitar Stefanov Dimitrov, a spider evolution expert at the University Museum of Bergen in Norway. Most spiders’ two little fangs used for biting would barely leave a mark big enough to spot. “Most of the bites people think are spider bites are not probably spider bites,” says Dimitrov.
     
  14. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    I have never found spiders to be at aggressive - and, believe me, we have plenty of spiders in this old house.

    It would be reasonable though to think that spiders might bite if they feel threatened like they would be if a big old gardener invaded their homes in the grass or rocks or if they were to become trapped in clothing. That's my theory anyway. Interesting too that I have not spent much time at all in the wilds of my garden and haven't had what I think are spider bites for a couple of years now.
     
  15. Heathen

    Heathen Active Member

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    There are plenty of bugs out there that bite and cause a reaction, that one wouldn't think to be a problem. I was told by someone, likely my father, who worked in entomology, that plant-eating insects biting us "mistakenly" can get some of the plant juice in the wound, and that's the real source of the irritation. Leafhoppers, pierris lace bugs, various mites... Haven't tried using Deet while working, might help though.
     
  16. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    When the bite is as large as the one in my photo, it kinda narrows down the likely culprits. :-)

    upload_2024-1-18_14-22-32.png
     
  17. DerekK

    DerekK Active Member

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    I would agree with the others posts it is very unlikely that you are being bitten by any spider in your garden and certainly not repeatedly. As for the myth that we have Brown Recluse Spider in BC I think the first link can dispel that. It has never been found in BC.

    One-is-the-Lonliest-Number.pdf

    This second link has a lot of information about spiders generally and the belief that they are responsible for unexplained bites. If you're an arachnophobe you might want to miss the part about the over 2000 Brown Recluse Spiders in one house, with no bites from any of them!

    the-truth-about-spider-bites-aggressive-spiders-and-the-threat-to-public-health

    With regards to Deet products as protection from insect bites generally, a product I have used with great success is Pi Active. I use it every time I go hiking and other outdoor activities where I might be exposed to mosquitoes, ticks etc. Touch wood I have never been bitten by anything after using it. I don't have shares in the company by the way! The link is for Canadian Tire but it is also available at Mountain Equip. and others. I hope I'm not breaking any rules by mentioning a specific product.


    mosquito-shield-piactive-12-hour-deet-free-pump-mosquito-insect-repellent-spray-175-ml-0591279p.0591279.html
     
  18. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Why do you say that? What else could it be? 'Repeatedly' refers to several times over several months; certainly nothing like flee bites or mosquito bites.
     
  19. DerekK

    DerekK Active Member

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    In your original post you mentioned "...one or more...". As all the other links provided mention documented spider bites are quite rare. It is not impossible to have been bitten by a spider once but to be bitten one or more times is extremely unlikely.
    I have gardened, hiked, trail run and birded for 50 years with only a relative few mosquito bites and a couple of bee stings.

    As for what else it could be again others have mentioned some possibilities but you should feel confident that spider bites are not the source of your problem.
     
  20. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    This is interesting because I have always been told by (non-naturalist) friends that my very occasional big nasty bites were spider bites. And there was always some poor apparently falsely accused spider seen around the time that I thought the bite occurred. So I've always ushered out to the balcony any spider I've found in the apartment.
     

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