Parson Spider


The parson spider is sometimes accused of having a dangerous bite, but that's a myth. My friend D'Arcy says she found this fellow in her crystal singing bowl. I didn't even know she had a crystal singing bowl. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know what a crystal singing bowl was.




25 comments:

  1. I think the myth came into being because some people seem to have very violent allergic reactions to the parson spider's venom. Or that's what I've heard...

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  2. Its looks may also have been a factor. One mightn't suspect it from these attractive photos, but, for its small size, the parson looks wicked.

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  3. Agreed. Think maybe some people who are bitten by the spider can have physical reactions purely out of fear? I know it has happened with some non-venomous (or only very slightly venomous) snakes- the victim knows jack about snakes, gets bitten, assumes that the snake is deadly and starts feeling symptoms as if they were about to die or something- but it's all in their mind.

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  4. I heard a similar story about a guy bitten by some harmless Agelinid spider (specifically a Western grass spider, if memory serves). He thought he’d been bitten by a hobo spider, and he had a big systemic reaction that was probably just a panic attack. The irony is that even a legit hobo spider bite is hardly anything to panic about—it could hurt you, but it probably won’t.

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  5. I can imagine his reaction if he was ever bitten by a Black Widow :D

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  6. And of course some people think any black spider is a black widow. . .

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  7. I awoke one morning to a huge swelling on my cheek from a spider bite during the night. Within a day or two it affected my face so badly that I began looking for anything in the house that might have caused it (allergic reactions to anything else). The swelling grew to stand about an inch off my face and about 3-4 inches across. A few nights later, my parakeets were flapping violently in their cage. Upon inspection, I found a parson spider next to the cage. It took two weeks for the swelling in my face to go down, along with about 4 glands that protruded in my neck (with the aid of meds from the doctor). Believe it when you hear that the Parson spider may cause a bad allergic reaction (not from hysteria). I have since found 4 others. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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  8. Wow, that's a scary story. It's interesting that your birds reacted to the spider. Were you able to see puncture marks on your skin? That would be my first thought in trying to narrow down the cause. It certainly could be a bite, but there are so many other possibilities that I'd be hesitant to blame the parson spider without some direct evidence, such as seeing the spider where you were sleeping or finding twin punctures in the skin (which might require a magnifying glass). As I mention in The Book of Deadly Animals, I attempted to get a parson spider to bite me and was not able to do so. I think the spider would only have bitten your face if it were trapped under you as you slept, which would suggest its body might remain nearby.

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    1. There was no central blister but there was a center place (should have taken a picture). I initially thought it was a spider bite (I've gotten a few) but when it swelled severely I began the process of elimination from other sources. Then when the gland got huge and I got a roaring headache, I went to the doctor for treatment. Everything else was ruled out. By the way, my parson spiders are about 1" across. I've read they are only 1/2". Is this unusual?

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    2. Fascinating. I've never heard of a case quite like this.

      Half an inch is about the maximum body length for a parson spider, but a leg span of an inch isn't unheard of. I personally have never seen one that big. (I live in Wisconsin.)

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    3. To be fair I should mention that I am a highly functioning person with multiple sclerosis. At this point, I am pretty healthy but my immune system is not what it could be. And yes, I'm measuring leg span at an inch.

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    4. Very interesting. The MS certainly adds a new wrinkle.

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  9. I mentioned other possible causes of the injury. This link lists some. It was compiled in regards to brown recluse bite, which is over-diagnosed, but some of the items could also account for the symptoms you describe. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2002/08/05/hlsa0805.htm#s2
    Some relevant excerpts:
    “Other arthropods-- Bugs, ticks, fleas, bedbugs, mosquitoes, lice and flies are among the arthropods that seek out humans for a blood meal. Many bites or stings have a boil-like onset, central swelling and redness. Ants, bees and wasps usually produce sharp, immediate pain. Some beetles do not bite but excrete a vesicant. Mites, centipedes and several non-loxoscelid spiders can also produce a necrotic wound.”
    “Cellulitis or impetigo Very common, typically streptococcal infections, often with multiple large blisters and diffuse, spreading, acute inflammation with leukocyte infiltration. Skin is red, hot and edematous. Impetigo tends to have a honey-crusted look. Cellulitis is usually characterized by a hard, red surface, sometimes with a necrotic center.”
    “Medications can evoke skin conditions ranging from urticarial allergic reaction to erythema multiforme. Blisters with skin necrosis are induced by warfarin, heparin, halogens (bromoderma) and barbiturates, among others.” Even such seemingly harmles drugs as ibuprofen can cause facial swelling.
    “Contact or chemical dermatitis Triggered by allergic reaction (including poison oak, poison ivy and sumac) or chemical irritants, these may mimic a variety of dermatologic conditions. Contact dermatitis is most often itchy, chemical dermatitis more often painful, with fluid-filled blisters, tenderness, redness and swelling.”

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  11. Finally found the spider that bit me and caused a 1" welt that lasted over three weeks...it also itched pretty ferociously. I left it alone, put some antibiotic cream on it as it seemed to be forming a crust in the center. Kept an eye on it...saw the spider that did it...parsons, but a little guy with that white blaze on the abdomen, no more than 3/8-1/2" including legs. He sure packed a wallop though, had me quite concerned.

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  12. I once had a series of small bites (with dual puncture marks) down my arm. One evening, I napped early because I was exhausted, felt a tickle on my arm, and woke to find a parson spider running away from me toward the edge of the bed. That one parson spider had been making frequent attempts to feed on my arm that week and left me with five itchy bites over three nights.

    I found two parson spiders in my apartment earlier this week. Two nights ago, I was having trouble sleeping so threw off my blanket. I felt an itch on my back then a sharp pinch. A parson spider had bitten the mole on my back. I need to move my bed out to clean and make sure it is not still there since it got away during the night.

    The bites are not particularly damaging, however, being bitten while sleeping seems quite invasive. These spiders hunt at night and do not descriminate what they are tying to bite. As with any arthropod bites, allergic reaction and risk of Strep. infection from the bite are medically significant risks.

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    1. I also have had a series of bites from parson spiders and I really get a reaction with welts and intense itch. They bite while I am sleep but I found a very small parson spider, I assume juvenile, tangled in my sheets one night and then a full size one a couple of days later in the connecting bathroom. It made me think that they were reproducing but I found no evidence when I took apart the bed and all if the furniture and vacuumed extensively. I was brought up to accept spiders in the house since they help get rid of other insects. But a spider the makes me his dinner as I sleep is disconcerting and, while not life threatening, is very uncomfortable and distracting. It is not yet clear to me if the lemon scented pledge spray helps or not. If it does, it would seem to need to be reapplied every couple of days. Vacuuming every day does not seem to have helped. I do not know whether coming winter weather will help or make things worse. Any advice about keeping a parson spider out of my bed and/or keeping my body from reacting so badly to the bites would be much appreciated. Thanks. First time in 23 years in this house. Not sure what triggered all this. Help?

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    2. I wonder if your reactions are caused by an allergy? If that's the case, Benedryl might help. You might also get some relief from and over-the-counter corticosteroid cream. As for the spiders themselves, they most probably wander in from outside, rather than breeding indoors. Teh change of seasons should make a difference.

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  13. My husband found a spider in our house a few days ago that looks very much like a parson's spider. It started the day out fairly black but by the end of the day in a closed jar, had started to turn grey on the top of the body as well as it's legs. After he was able to show it to all the kids, he released it in a local 'open space' and did not take a picture prior to doing so. My question is, this spider was very large. The body size was 1.25-1.5 inches. It rested in the crevice of the jar with four front legs together and 4 back legs together, extending in front of and out behind it. Measurement including the legs was about 2.5 inches. I am not easily creeped out by spiders but this guy was big! Most of what I am pulling up on the internet states these spiders to be .5 inches. Is is possible for parson spiders to be the size of the one we caught or could it be a different spider. Thanks.

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    1. i think it's a different spider. From the posture and size you describe, one possibility is a fishing spider. Here are some photos of a fishing spider: http://deadlykingdom.blogspot.com/2012/05/fishing-spider.html
      Unfortunately, that specimen doesn't have a particularly clear set of parson-style markings. There are other big spiders with similar markings, such as certain wolf and grass spiders. All of these are harmless, despite their looks. :)

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  14. I'm thankful to have found this site. Just last night I woke up around 2 am and began to toss and turn when I felt a sharp pin prick on my lower leg accompanied by itching. I immediately startet scratching it. I then took a peek and saw a spider. It was damaged but still moving. It scared me thinking it maybe a deadly spider. I looked up on the internet on common house spiders and it sure looked like a parson spider.

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    1. That's a very common scenario. Most spider bites happen when a person accidentally touches the animal. In most cases the bite causes no lasting problems.

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    2. Thank you for replying. It's rather creepy to me knowing that it was crawling around under the covers while I was asleep. the itching has subsided but there's still two red bumps where it's fangs penetrated the skin. Thank you again for your site. Very interesting.

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    3. Yeah, that is a bit creepy. A lot of spiders just like the tight shelter of being between two layers. In the wild, they would shelter between the leaves of a plant or even the layers of weathering shale. Thanks for reading. I hope the bite doesn't cause you any further discomfort. --Gordon

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  15. just captured one of those critters before it could possibly bite one of my grandkids. it was close to where they sleep. i will find a place to let it go outside and farther away. i normally am not a spider killer.

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