Hiking or backpacking in the wilderness areas of the United States can be a truly memorable experience. Whether hiking a mountain trail or taking a trek along the beach being in the great outdoors is a healthy way to relax and experience nature.
One of the ways to make your adventure more pleasurable is to be extremely aware of your surroundings and of the various animals and insects that may populate the area. Campers and day hikers must take precautions against any known dangers such as wild cats, bears, snakes, insects and even spiders. Some of the most lethally dangerous snakes in the world live in the United States, such as the Rattlesnake whose bite can cause organ damage and in some cases even death.
As scary as an encounter with a snake can be, a spider bite can be even worse. Believe it or not, there is a spider in South America that can grow to be up to a foot long, and while some of these larger spiders are much more scary to look at, the bites from their smaller counterparts can be more deadly.
The most venomous spiders that are commonly found in the United States are the Black Widow spider, the Hobo spider and the Brown Recluse spider. Symptoms from the bites of these spiders vary, but the venom from these spider bites do not usually cause death. Symptoms may include a rash, headache, nausea, a fever and possibly pain at the site of the spider bite. If a spider bite occurs the first thing to do is figure out what kind of spider it is, to determine if the bite is venomous. Wash the area of the bite with soap and water and apply a cold compress if swelling occurs, then seek immediate medical attention.
To help prevent spider bites from happening in the first place, pay attention to your surroundings. Spiders like to hang out in dark undisturbed places where they can nest. Do not stick your hands or feet into these types of places without checking for spiders first with a flashlight. Spiders will even crawl into unattended shoes, so check those with a flashlight as well. Shake out any sleeping bags or blankets before crawling into them. When walking or hiking wear long pants or long sleeved shirts and try to avoid walking through long grasses, where snakes and spiders like to live. Do not walk around in your bare feet and keep any bags or containers you may carry with you sealed shut.
The main thing to remember is to be aware of your surroundings. Most spiders cannot even pierce the human flesh with their fangs, and snakes do not usually attack unless stepped on or disturbed, with the exception of the Eastern Brown Snake found in Australia which will actually chase anything it perceives as a threat. If you remain alert and check the dark spaces before settling down for a rest you’ll have a wonderful, bite-free experience.