I am terribly afraid of spiders, so I was a bit squeamish about debunking a few of the false spider-related posts on Facebook.
I Used to be an Adventurer Like You
Until I Took a Spider to the Butt
One of the popular Facebook posts involves a two-striped spider that likes to hide in airplane bathrooms and bite people on the butt. That story is entirely fictional, fortunately for the entire human race and especially those of us who do not like creepity-crawly things.
Now if you’re in an outdoor toilet, checking below the seat for critters (including arachnids) might be a wise idea. Doing it before you’ve taken your pants down, so that you can run away screaming if you need to, is an even wiser idea.
The Reclusive Brown Recluse
Another Facebook post I’ve seen involves the Brown Recluse spider, one of the few North American spiders with a dangerous bite. The problem with the post is that some parts of it are true, and some aren’t. (Warning: Very Icky Pictures! Not for the squeamish! Seriously, you’ll regret it!)
The pictures shown are from 2003, and the person in them isn’t even sure he was really bitten by a Brown Recluse. He did have MRSA, (Warning: Another icky picture. Ew!) which is serious and a half.
Brown Recluse bites can be dangerous, but apparently, the biggest danger is getting an infection after being bitten, not the venom from the bite itself. It’s kind of an important distinction, because you’re not going to fall down and die ten seconds after the spider bites you, but if you scratch the bite, don’t keep the wound clean and don’t get treated if it does get infected, you could be in some serious trouble.
That said, most Brown Recluse bites heal on their own in 2-3 months, and a doctor who specializes in Brown Recluse spiders said there has never been a verified death from a Brown Recluse bite. (Deaths have been discussed in journals but none were “convincing,” according to the specialist.)
Now I’m a Nervous Nellie and I have health insurance, so I’d probably go get checked out if I thought I’d been bitten by a Brown Recluse, or if I had any kind of bite that wasn’t healing. Caution is a very good idea, and the bites can certainly be serious if they get infected.
However, panicking over your imminent death (which is highly, highly unlikely) isn’t constructive, and that’s why this Facebook post isn’t the best.