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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black widow spiders in Ont. not cause for alarm

"An entomologist is taking a bite out of tales being woven about a scourge of black widow spiders entering Canada.

Reports have emerged that the dangerous spiders are being found in Ontario. Two have been found in the Toronto area in the past year -- one in a garage in Mississauga and another in a cottage in Bolton, north of Mississauga.

And where there are two, there are likely more, the thinking goes.

Since the "spiderlings" of black widow spiders leave home by spinning a sail-like web and throwing themselves to the winds, they could land anywhere.

This is not the first time the spiders have been spotted in Ontario. In decades past, they've been sighted in London, Barrie, along the Bruce Peninsula and on some Georgian Bay islands."

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According to my online research concerning the prevalence of black widow spiders in Canada, these
 facts exist:

(a)"One of the most common misconceptions about spiders is that they are insects. Spiders are arachnids and are actually closely related to mites, ticks and scorpions. Spiders have two body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), eight legs and usually six to eight eyes, while insects are classified by having three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), six legs, and generally two compound eyes or up to three single eyes. The average life span of a spider is usually one to two years, but some can live five years and up to 20 years."

(b) "There is much confusion regarding poisonous spiders found in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). This confusion extends, in many cases, even to the medical community. Only four spiders of medical importance occur in the PNW. Two of these, sac spiders in the genus Cheiracanthium, are rarely encountered. The other two, the aggressive house spider, or hobo spider, and black widow spider occur commonly in association with human activity and present a real danger in terms of bites.
he black widow spider (Latrodoctus sp.) occurs in the PNW generally in dry, undisturbed areas such as firewood piles, old lumber, dry crawl spaces, bales of hay, etc. The adult female is 1-1/2 inch in diameter, including legs, jet black with red markings on the underside of her abdomen. Males and immatures may be striped white or yellow. This spider is secretive, not aggressive, and rarely causes bite injuries. The venom is neurotoxic and may lead to systemic effects, sometimes even death."

(c)"The two most common types of spiders that are considered health threats in Canada are
the black widow and brown recluse.he female black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) is a poisonous spider that has a somewhat round, shiny black abdomen with red markings that resemble an hourglass on the underside. The size of the body is approximately 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 to 1 3/8 inches long. Despite common opinion, the female rarely kills the male after mating."

(d)"Five different species of the black widow spider are prevalent in North America. They generally live under rocks and under fallen trees outside the home. In and around the house they are often found in firewood piles, basements and crawlspaces. They are also found in secluded places, such as garages and sheds. They feed on insects and other spiders that are trapped in their web. They are usually not aggressive spiders, but if handled or accidentally touched, they may bite.
To avoid getting bitten by the black widow, wear leather gloves when working around potential habitats. Use caution around spider webs in basements and crawl spaces. If a black widow is encountered, contact a pest control professional."


(e)"During the summer months and in the warm regions of the United States and Canada spiders can be commonly found outside under shrubs and garden plants. Black widow spiders are distinctive due to their shiny, round body, brown or black color and two reddish or yellowish triangles on the abdomen. The legs are long and slender. The black widow spider will bite in self-defence, if physically disturbed. The spider's venom is poisonous and should be treated properly and promptly. Children and adults who are not in good physical health should take particular care. They should not interact with these spiders and avoid being bitten."

(f)"There is an increased frequency of finding black widow spiders in imported table grapes, especially during the fall harvesting season for table grapes imported from California.. Spiders have always been in and around grape vineyards. They eat insect pests that are found on grapes. The presence of spiders does not damage or poison the grapes. When grapes are harvested, every bunch is carefully examined and placed into a package. Some spiders may camouflage with the grape vines and escape the attention of the farm worker. Grapes are also chilled prior to being transported. The chilling causes spiders to become dormant and immobile, making their way to retailers and consumers' homes."

(g)"Any spiders should be treated with caution. The best control is to get rid of the spider without touching it or its web. Consumers are advised to wash their grapes thoroughly by placing them under running warm water. This practice will clean the product of any extraneous matter and likely immobilize any live spiders by washing them off into the sink. If a spider falls into the sink it is recommended that the spider be killed rather than captured. If giving grapes to a toddler or young child it is recommended that they be removed from the bunch. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also encourages consumers to report any incidents of finding spiders in produce so that appropriate action can be taken."


(h)"Widow spiders come from the genus Latrodectus. Although there are thirty-one species of widow spiders throughout the world, the most well known are the black widow spider of North America and the red back spider of Australia."

(i)"There are three varieties of black widows found in North America. The southern black widow (L.mactans) inhabits the southeastern portion of the US, ranging from Florida north to New York, and west to Texas and Oklahoma. The northern black widow (L.variiolus) inhabits the northeastern part of the United States, as well as the southeastern part of Canada. The third variety, known as the western black widow (L.Hesperus) occupies the western parts of the US, as well as, the majority of Mexico and the southwestern part of Canada. It is common for the different species to overlap territories. All three species have much in common, and are referred by many as being the most poisonous spider to inhabit North America. Their venom has been reported by scientists to be fifteen times more potent than rattlesnake venom."

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.