The latest in the series for concerned arachnophobes sees us in South Africa where they’ll already be recoiling at the thought of all that might be found in this country known for deadly creatures. It’s disappointing to say the least but you’ll find similar spiders to those you might find the world over and in some cases a lack of those that might prove deadly – there are no Black Widow spiders and no Tarantulas either.
What South Africa does have is four spiders known to give painful bites, some of which can prove fatal if treatment is not sought expediently or if the victim has some underlying medical condition that leaves them susceptible to the toxins from these spiders.
So who are the suspects?
Sand Crab Spider
The potentially most dangerous spider in South Africa is the Sand Crab Spider. Don’t go thinking you’ll find it on the beaches for it inhabits the sands of the Kalahari and other South African arid regions hunting by day or night, attacking using its speed and venom. Few people are mad enough to go out into the desert without adequate foot protection so it’s no surprise that there have been few attacks, let alone fatalities in the last century. You're extremely unlikely to come across this arachnid if holidaing in Cape Town
The next suspect is an old favourite and found in the US and around the Mediterranean too. It’s the Violin Spider, distinguishable by the violin shape mark on its back. It uses a cytotoxin venom as all ground dwellers do whereas web dwellers use neurotoxins. The danger with the bites from these spiders is that the venom is necrotising – in plain talk, it eats away at your flesh. Bites begin as a sore spot which develops into a blister which burst into an ulcer that, if it gets infected, can cause blood poisoning and death. These spiders are night hunters which is when most people get bitten and can often invade homes. They make no web, rather relying on their speed and stealth to attack.
Yellow Sac Spider
Another favourite now, also seen in America, is the Yellow Sac Spider. It’s another ground dweller with a cytotoxic bite which causes disfiguring and painful ulcers. They hunt day or night and can be found anywhere but prefer dry and hot conditions. You’ll mostly encounter this one if you’re rooting around in rocks or laying on the ground for some reason. Not deadly but worth avoiding where possible.
Black and Brown Button Spiders complete the list. The black version looks a little like the Black Widow with a red marking on its abdomen but its bite is far less vicious. Symptoms from the neurotoxin include raised blood pressure, sweating, palpitations and fidgetiness. There have been no recorded fatalities but the old and very young can suffer a lot of discomfort from their bite. The brown version is even less dangerous.
So, spiders can be crossed off the list of things to worry about when travelling to South Africa. Sensible precautions will see you avoid these creatures who invariably only attack when provoked. Don't be put off travelling to this wonderful country with so much to see and do, if you are lucky enough to go, why not rent a car in South Africa
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