GRANTS PASS, Ore.– It’s a warning we’re told ever since we were little children. Stay away from black widows. In the last two weeks, however, two people – one in Jackson and one in Josephine County went to the hospital for treatment after being bitten by one.
According to the St. Louis Zoo, a black widow bite is 15 times more venomous than a rattlesnake bite. What may feel like a pinprick at first can turn into a pain that takes weeks to recover from.
“It was pretty intense. It almost feels like you’re kicked by a mule,” said Scott Gildard, one of the people bitten by the spider.
Nearly two weeks ago Gildard was on his way home from work when he saw a black spider bite him on the knee. Initially, he says the pain was bearable.
“It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all,” he said. “It was like just like a pin or a needle.”
But days later, it became much much worse.
“I’m waking up in the middle of the night and the blankets are just wet and I’m going what the heck is going on here?” he said. “And the muscle spasms! I could turn like this and just freeze up and just sit there and it would hurt.”
Gildard went to the hospital where it became clear he had been bitten by a black widow. Doctors managed to give him antibiotics allowing him to recover now but the pain is still intense.
“Still got the cramps, the muscle spasms and I just can’t jump out on this,” he said. “I can’t put any pressure on my left leg yet.”
According to pest control companies NBC5 News spoke with, the West Coast is a hub for black widows. They’re most active in the summer and fall but they’re usually not aggressive.
“Generally, a black widow will not bite you unless you come across it accidentally or you antagonize it,” said David Ord with Pointe Pest Control.
Typically though, black widows are found in dark, quiet areas. Barns, outhouses, meter boxes, and barrels are some of their favorite spots according to Ord.
Of course, the best way to get rid of them is to kill them or you can find other ways to mitigate the chance you stumble across one.
“What’s around your structure. Can I move a woodpile away from the home? Can I remove tall grasses,” said Ord.
It’s too late for Gildard. He’s still feeling the awful effects of the spider bite. But he hopes, by sharing his story, you’ll know what to look out for.
“It’s so intense to deal with something like that,” he said. “Just go straight to the hospital. That’s the best way to take care of it.”
The woman bit in the hand by a spider Friday in Jackson County says she suffered muscle cramps from her shoulders to her legs. A simple blood test can tell the doctor if you’ve been bitten to get treatment underway immediately.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.