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What do bats, snakes and spiders have in common? Very little except they are all beneficial organisms that are intensely feared by the general public. Spiders are the victims of bad publicity. It hasn't always been that way though. During the Middle Ages, the presence of spiders was a sign of a healthy household. Nowadays, homemakers view cobwebs as unsightly and a sign of poor housekeeping. Spiders actually perform a valuable service, that of destroying injurous insects.

The fear of spiders does have some basis in fact. Two spiders, the black widow and the brown recluse are capable of delivering painfull and occasionally fatal bites. Some people are very sensitive or allergic to the bite of any spider. Children, elderly and people of ill health are most sensitive to spider bites. The severity of the reaction depends on the the amount and kind of venom, depth of the bite and the area bitten.

If it is suspected the bite is from a black widow or a brown recluse, the spider should be preserved in alcohol (be careful not to be bitten again) and properly identified. Poisoning by spiders are rare and the main reason spiders are controlled is because of their habit of building unsightly webs in conspicuous places.