170.The Perils of Summer,Part 2: Creepy Crawlers

With the onset of warmer weather comes  increased activity in nature.  Living out in the open increases the liklihood of perilous summer encounters with  a creepy crawler~venomous insect,spiders & snakes.  Encounters with each of these varies widely depending on geographic location in the US, although with the current urban sprawl wildlife often is found with increasing frequency among otherwise heavily populated areas.


Snakes become  active with the onset of warmer temperatures. They can be found in both suburban areas and with greater frequency in the southern,rural areas of the US.  For those in areas with known snake populations it’s important to take some precautions to avoid bites:

  • Leave snakes alone. Many people are bitten because they try to kill a snake or get too close to it.
  • Stay out of tall grass unless you wear thick leather boots and remain on hiking paths as much as possible.
  • Keep hands and feet out of areas you cannot see. Do not pick up rocks or firewood unless you are out of a snake’s striking distance.
  • Be cautious and alert when climbing rocks.

Most folks know that the poisonous snakes of the US have a traingular shaped head . The bites from these snakes can be severe if untreated.  But even nonpoisonous snakes bites can be a source of infection and can result in an allergic reaction for some folks.The poisonous snakes of the US include:

  • Rattlesnake
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
  • Coral Snake
  • If bitten all snake bites should receive medical care as soon as possible.  All bites should be washed with soap and water or another antibacterial agent immediately.  Place a band above the wound tight enough to slow circulation but allowing a finger to be placed underneath the band.  Cool compresses(never ice) and positioning the wound below the heart will decrease the venom spreading and assist with swelling and pain while awaiting medical care

    (*To date ,NC has the greatest frequency of snake bites followed by Texas, Georgia & Florida)


    The “bad “players in the insect category in the US are ticks , the Brown Recluse Spider & the scorpion. While virtually any insect can result in a allergic reaction or infection  these are the insect with the most serious side effects.

    Ticks carry the potential for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever , Lyme’s Disease & tick borne fever. In areas with deer tick populations the single best protection against them is insect repellent with active ingredients of DEET or permethrin . Unfortunatley, even with precautions once a tick becomes attached to the skin the risk of tick borne illness rises. Removal of the tick should be attempted with care as undue pressure can release tick contents into the bloodstream. Ideally, acetone poured over the tick will cause it to release. It’s unlikely many people living in the open have such a supply so careful removal without pressure will suffice.( the heat of a hot match also will work) If bitten by a tick it’s important to note the onset of rashes,headaches, flu like symptoms and seek medical attention.


        The Brown Recluse inhabit the south and south-central states from Georgia through Texas and north to Wisconsin.The spider is not aggressive and only bites if it is attacked or pressed against skin or threatened in any other way – or perhaps injured.  Bites may vary in severity from no symptoms at all to very severe reactions such as renal (kidney) failure and ultimatively death. Brown recluse spiders  are indeed reclusive and like habitats that include barns, woodpiles or beneath anything lying on the ground. It’s also found in basements or garages behind boxes, in old clothing or inside papers, tires. Those without shelter should try to stay away from areas that might hide spiders. Bites from this spider are often painful with a dark central area or open sore indicating the venom has resulted in dead tissue. Bites for this spider should be cleaned and closely monitored for skin changes,fever and rashes and medical treatment sought.

    The  scorpion, considered the only lethal scorpion in the United States, is found in Arizona and northern Mexico. Bites from this insect can be very serious resulting in pain, numbness at the site of the bite,breathing & heart symptoms. All scorpion bites should seek immediate medical attention to be observed for potenttial symptoms and infection.

    All Insect bites can  benefit from careful attention to cleanliness to avoid infection & bendryl to prevent itching and to decrease allergic reactions.







    1 Response to “170.The Perils of Summer,Part 2: Creepy Crawlers”

    1. 1 Mikel Jameson
      November 8, 2009 at 10:03 pm

      Yeah nothing like waking up to a face full of slug slime! That’s really a more Northwest kind of “bug” that you deal with. Ticks/lice aren’t much fun either, and I’ve gotta admit that where I’m staying right now I’ve got a few bedbugs to kill every few days. I’ll be buying some bug killer soon but apparently they can live for 6-8 months before dying of starvation and you’ve got to keep spraying for about that long since the eggs can take awhile to hatch if it’s not warm enough (this is November right now, 30’s to 50’s every night/day.) The best technique seems to be to fully encapsulate yourself in something but unfortunately I don’t have a tent so I just wrap up with my tarp or some plastic every night. Of course then you have to dry the bedding every day but that’s a small price to pay to keep the slugs off you! I stay in the woods so that’s my major problem with bugs for now. Keep up the good work, Mike

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