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Monday, July 18, 2016

Spiders of Baja


Spiders of Baja
Karri Moser - July 2010 and UPDATED by BGLC July2016

With such a unique landscape, Baja is naturally home to many creepy and crawly critters. Spiders are undoubtedly a common sight indoors and out. Between the beaches, sand dunes, plains, mountains and desert landscape, you are bound to stumble across a number of varieties. 

It is important to be able to identify certain spiders and to do your best to not get bitten by them. Typically, spiders will not even bother to bite unless they feel cornered, threatened or are injured. It is also important to know that regardless of toxicity, each person reacts differently to being bitten. However, the majority of spider bites are not very painful. 
A bee sting can be more painful for some people.

A common type of spider called habronattus, or "jumping spider", is plentiful. In fact, there are 18 different jumping spiders in Baja. With over 90 described species in the genus, the group represents one of the more species-rich spider genera in the World. It has a tremendous variety of habitats ranging in elevation from below sea level to over 4000 meters. Habronattus spiders are typically ground-dwellers, but also as vegetation-dwellers. Most mid-elevation sites with a reasonable wealth of microhabitats will have more than five species living in close proximity. Eighteen species are (essentially) endemic to the region, several of which are currently un-described. It is almost certain that additional collecting will reveal more new species, particularly in under-collected areas of Baja.


Huntsman spiders, members of the family Sparassidae, are known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting. They also are called "giant crab spiders" because of their size and appearance. They are large, long-legged spiders, measuring up to 15 centimetres across the legs. Mostly grey to brown, sometimes with banded legs and have eight eyes. Sometimes aggressive but NOT considered dangerously venomous to humans. May bite in self-defense if roughly handled; mildly painful bite, like a bee sting if spider injects venom. These Huntsman Spiders are frequently tolerated because they are nocturnal hunters that help to control cockroach populations.

The Baja Brown Recluse, which is venomous to humans, is also native to Baja. Brown Recluse spiders are yellowish-tan to dark brown. They have long, thin gray to dark brown legs covered with very short, dark hairs. Both male and female spiders are similar in appearance and are equally venomous. The most distinguishing mark on a brown recluse spider is the presence of a dark brown or black violin or fiddle on its back with the violin's "neck" pointing toward the rear of its body. Brown Recluse spiders are both reclusive and nocturnal and prefer warm dry locations. The spider has 6 eyes in 3 pairs arranged in a semi-circle in front of the violin. This is uncommon since most most spiders
have 8 eyes. The average size of a mature Brown Recluse spider is about the size of a quarter. They dangerously venomous to humans; bite wounds can cause severe tissue damage very quickly. Between 1 and 3 days after being bitten, an untreated brown recluse spider bite is likely to form one or more blisters. The bite site may become bluish colored at this time. Seek self-care measures, Click Here http://healthwyze.org/reports/232-naturally-treating-brown-recluse-spider-bites. Know that this should not replace a visit to a doctor or emergency department.

The Baja Tarantula is covered in a light brown or tan hair with black hair covering most of the body and reddish hairs on its abdomen. They are very sensitive to vibrations in the ground that may indicate the presence of prey or danger. They are equipped with urticating hairs on their abdomen which can be released by kicking with the back legs; these hairs irritate the nose and eyes of would-be attackers. Additionally they can use its fang's to inflict a bite and mildly venomous but not harmful. Your will find them in dry, well-drained soils in open areas throughout the desert and grassland areas. Tarantulas can live 10 to 20 years, with the females living the longest. 

What to do is you get a spider bite?

The average reaction to a non-poisonous bite is:
Reddening, swelling, itching, soreness and slight pain around the site of the bite. If you think you have bitten by a non-poisonous spider, treatment is simple:
  • Wash the area thoroughly with cool water and mild soap
  • Apply ice to decrease pain and swelling.
  • Elevate area if possible above the level of the heart.
  • Option or activated charcoal; apply a thick paste to the bite area that is  made from the fine charcoal powder and water. Tape the charcoal and water mixture to the bite, and leave for up to 4 hours.
  • Avoid any strenuous activity because this can spread the spider's venom in the skin.\
  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief.
If you believe you have been bitten by a poisonous spider, you SHOULD seek medical attention as soon as you can. If you can easily and safely capture the spider, it is recommended that you bring it with you to the hospital so a definite identification can be made. You should wash the bite area and apply ice or a cold cloth. You can take pain medication if necessary. You should also try to elevate the site. Same as above.

Due to the fact that you can never tell how you will react to a bite from a venomous spider, be it a Baja Recluse or others species, you should be aware of the most severe symptoms and get medical help as soon as you can. Tourists and locals should take the time to learn the characteristics of the spiders around them and be cautious when you come across spiders of any kind.


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