The parson spider is a nuisance in homes and is generally nontoxic; although some people may experience allergic reactions to the bites. The parson spider is about 1/2 inch long and may vary in color from brown to black. The front segment of the body tends to be a chestnut color, while the abdomen is grayish with a distinctive white or pink pattern along its middle. The body is covered with fine hairs, giving a velvety appearance. The parson spider is usually found outdoors under rocks or in piles of brush or firewood. This spider does not spin a web, but wanders on the ground in search of prey.
Life History, Habits, and Habitat of Spiders
Indoors, this spider wanders about at night and conceals itself beneath objects or in clothing during the day. Most bites from this spider occur at night or when it is trapped in clothing. While the parson spider is not considered poisonous, bite symptoms are variable in severity. Some people may experience localized allergic swelling and itching in addition to initial pain. A few persons may experience excessive swelling, nervousness, nausea, sweating and elevated temperatures from the bites.
The bite of a female Spider is usually more more potent than that of the male. For most people a bite of the widow spiders produces serious and immediate reactions that vary from mild to severe depending upon the person.
Some victims may not even feel the actual bite, but within a few hours the bitten part usually becomes swollen and painful, and blisters may form on the skin around the bite. The skin at the bite site begins to turn purple, and eventually becomes black and dry as the cells die. Within a few weeks the blackened area flakes away, leaving a circular pit in the skin which fills with scar tissue.
The sloughed area, often quite large (up to 30 mm in diameter), may persist for several weeks, and healing takes place very slowly over a period of several months. A skin graft may be required to prevent a permanent scar.