Just when you thought it was safe to visit Mississippi. The animal uprising, arachnid division, has launched an all-out invasion of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The Brown Widow spider has suddenly appeared in large numbers in a place it has never been seen before now.
Dr. Jerome Goddard, entomologist with the Mississippi Department of Health, said the poisonous Brown Widow spider that is a cousin to the well-known Black Widow, is now calling the Mississippi Gulf Coast home.
"The tropical Brown Widow spider …. has recently been captured in many locations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Goddard said in a news release Tuesday.
He said his office has been receiving many phone calls reporting buildings and grounds heavily infested with this type of spider.
"This spider is in the same family as the Black Widow, and is poisonous to humans," Goddard said. "I first heard of a collection of this spider at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi in early 2005 and figured it was probably just an isolated incident."
The Health Department said the Brown Widow can grow to 1 1/2 inches long. It is brown or grayish-brown instead of black and has an orange-to-yellow hourglass design on its underside, as opposed to the familiar red hourglass design on the Black Widow.
"That's a dead giveaway," Goddard said. "When the hourglass design is yellowish or orange, instead of deep red, you know it is a Brown Widow."
That and the convulsions. Seriously, the Brown Widow appears to have a less lethal bite than the Black Widow. But we here at Blue Crab Boulevard heartily recommend the method we use when dealing with any spider 1-1/2 inches long. Squash first, then look for identifying marks. It's much safer than picking them up to see if they might be dangerous. Actually, we recommend this for any sized spider just on general principles.