As much fun as spending time outdoors can be, hikers or backpackers should always be cautious of their surroundings. In addition to potentially rough terrain and weather warnings, hikers need to pay attention to the animals around them. Creatures such as ticks, spiders, or snakes can quickly become detrimental to your health if you are bitten by something venomous.
One boy in Bolivia recently allowed a black widow spider to bite him. The black widow is typically not fatal, per Mount Sinai, but the venom in its bite can result in serious symptoms.
Why did this boy let a spider bite him? His sweet reasoning led to serious complications.
A young boy in Bolivia allowed a black widow spider to bite him.
On Aug. 2, 2023, Newsweek reported that an 8-year-old boy from Bolivia allowed a black widow spider to bite him. Black widow spiders produce a neurotoxin known as alpha-latrotoxin, which attacks the nervous system and can result in "extreme muscle cramping and pain" as well as "Weakness, headache, anxiety, restlessness, nausea, and vomiting," reports Science Direct.
The young boy found the spider under a stone outside and brought it home, where he allowed it to bite him. The boy allowed this because he wanted to become the superhero Spider-Man, Ernesto Vásquez, head of the Zoonotic Diseases Program of the Departmental Health Service of Oruro, told Newsweek.
For those unfamiliar, the Marvel Comics character of Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man after receiving a bite from a radioactive spider, which then gives him superpowers.
Sadly, this young man didn't receive his desired superpowers but a lengthy hospital visit instead!
Newsweek reports that the boy put the spider in a glass jar and returned home. Three hours later, he developed muscle aches and contractions and told his mother what was happening. After reaching the hospital, doctors administered an anti-venom and stabilized his condition shortly after his arrival.
Here's what to do if you think you were bitten by a black widow spider.
According to Healthline, the sensation of being bitten by a black widow often feels like a pinprick. Still, the area around the bite may turn red and swell. Symptoms can begin as immediately as 15 minutes after the bite or as late as several hours after, so paying attention to your body is important.
Black widow bites aren't typically fatal, but you may be in more danger if you are immunocompromised, elderly, or young. The best solution is not to suck the venom out but to wash the bite with soap, apply a wet ice pack in 10-minute intervals, and elevate the bite's location if possible. Then, call a friend, grab an Uber, or get to the nearest medical care facility.
Where are black widow spiders found?
Black widow spiders are a species that can be found across the globe, especially in places with temperate climates. They often make "irregularly shaped" webs around garages, barns, and near porch lights, says the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.
Northern black widow spiders are found in the U.S. throughout the east coast, especially in Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but also in Florida and southern Canada, per Michigan State University.