Rather bizarrely it seems that in Europe at least, the further north you travel, the more dangerous the spiders are so it won’t come as any surprise to find out that Italy has a paltry TWO poisonous spiders and even their poison won’t kill you, it’s the allergic reaction to their bite that might, especially if you’re old, very young or are susceptible to anaphylactic shock from allergies.
So whilst Britain has FOURTEEN that can do damage, a list that’s being added to, rather worryingly, each year as the English climate gets warmer (did I miss something?), Italy
has only the Tarantola and the Violino, which are Italianised versions of the Tarantula and violin backed spiders found in Mediterranean countries. Read more on spiders in Greece
The Tarantola is the largest of Italy’s spiders with a body up to 2.5 inches across and legs up to six inches long. Those of you hoping for tales of gore will be pleased to hear that the Tarantola leaves puncture marks on the skin which eventually turns blue as the venom shrinks the blood vessels forcing blood and the venom away from the wound. In twelve hours, if left untreated, the puncture marks morph into skin ulcers giving the common misconception that the venom is necrotising – in other words, for the gore fans, flesh eating!
Now for the good news; unless you go hunting for it or are fond of crawling around on your hands and knees in undergrowth you’re unlikely to be bitten. The spider hunts day and night and is most active around the breeding season but few travellers to Italy will encounter it.
The other ‘poisonous’ spider, the Violino (called the violin spider in Turkey
) is a lot smaller with a rather disappointing brown body up to half an inch across and legs up to 2.5 inches long. It is so called because it has a violin shape mark on its thorax. A bite from this spider sends a neurotoxin through your veins. It also constricts the veins around the bite site and leaves a bluish tinge to the skin. The worst affected will feel cold and shivery and may go into shock if they are susceptible to allergens.
The spider lives in undergrowth or in garages, sheds or woodpiles and hunts using a web so it’s often easy to spot before you get bitten. Like most spiders, it can hunt day or night and it’s around the mating season that they are most active and aggressive.
Italy’s other spiders are harmless, if a little scary to many people, but if you get bitten by the big two, then doctor’s advice is to kill the offending creature (don’t squash it as the doctor needs to identify it), wash the bite site and get to a doctor or pharmacist quickly. If you experience more extreme symptoms, you should get to a hospital as soon as possible.
Don’t let Italian spiders put you off visiting the country, in fact, comparing Italy to the UK, you maybe ought to be packing your bags right now (but check carefully inside them first!). And don't forget, if you need to rent a car in Italy
, you're in the right place!
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