Spiders belong to the arachnid class of arthropods, which also consists of ticks, scorpions and harvestman. Unlike insects, arachnids have eight legs, and are lacking in chewing mouthparts, wings and antennae; instead, spiders use their hollow fangs to inject venom into other organisms. The compounds in this venom turn their prey into sludge, which they then consume by using their hollow fangs like a straw. While this venom is certainly not caustic enough to make humans a source of food for spiders, spider venom can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals who sustain a bite from a particularly venomous species. A very small minority of spider species produce venom that can cause serious medical complications in humans who sustain a bite. Luckily, two dangerously venomous species, which includes the black widow, are either non-existent or in very low number in upstate New York. However, this is not to claim that the state’s northern region is not home to some large and scary looking spider species that have been known to inflict dangerous bites on residents near their homes. Not all frightening spider encounters in upstate New York occur in homes, as one resident from Cairo crashed her car into a wall after spotting a huge spider on her passenger seat while driving.
Less than two weeks ago, an unnamed upstate New York resident crashed her car beyond recognition into a stone wall along the interstate in response to being startled by a spider passenger. The woman survived, but was taken away by ambulance, but the spider species involved with the wreck remains unknown. Upstate New York’s relatively cold winter climate prevents spider species from living beyond a year. Spiders in the region spend their winters as eggs before reaching maturity in the summer and dying in the fall. However, it is not uncommon for some spiders to overwinter as inactive adults by securing relatively warm shelter beneath rocks, garden litter, and in many cases, people’s homes.
Two yellow-sac spider species may be the most dangerous to humans in residential areas of upstate New York. These species are known as C. mildei and C. inclusum, and each species is pale yellow in color. These spiders wander through yard vegetation in search of prey; instead, they often wind up in homes. These two species produce venom that leads to tissue necrosis at the bite wound in some cases. Medically significant spider bites in upstate New York are often blamed on the brown recluse, but in reality, the culprit is probably always one of the two yellow-sac spider species mentioned above.
Have you ever spotted a yellow-sac spider indoors?