There’s no shortage of dangerous bugs out there. Many of them are local to certain geographical locations. For example, the brown recluse spider is not a threat in Southern California, but it is in central and southern parts of the United States. SoCal does have its share of bad bugs, though, and the three most dangerous bug bites and stings are from the black widow spider, the Africanized bee, and wasps.
Black Widow Spider
Be careful of the black widow spider (or western widow). It’s considered the most venomous spider in North America. They’re common in California, and they often live in close proximity to humans. The female is the worst and carries potent venom containing neurotoxins, which are destructive to nerve tissue. She’s about half an inch long and has a rounded black body with a distinct red hourglass on the abdomen.
Signs & Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite
When a Black Widow spider bites you, the reaction is instant. You’ll feel pain, and there will be redness, swelling, and a burning sensation at the site. Several hours later, your muscles will begin to hurt and stiffen. You may also experience:
- difficulty breathing
- weakness or tremors
If you’ve been bitten by a black widow spider, seek immediate medical care. Treatment typically includes muscle relaxants or anti-venom and medications to lower the blood pressure, which rises with a black widow spider bite. These bites can be fatal to young children, the sick, and the elderly.
Africanized or Killer Bee
Occasionally, you’ll see a story on the news about someone being attacked by a huge swarm of bees – the highly defensive Africanized bees. They’re the most populous specimen of bees and are very aggressive, with their numbers increasing in SoCal.
Signs & Symptoms of an Africanized Bee Sting
You’ll notice pain, redness, and swelling at the site. The wasp may also leave behind its actual stinger in your skin. Common bee stings can be treated at home with an ice or cold compress, pain medication, and oral antihistamine or creams/lotions. But it’s a different story with Africanized bees.
They usually attack in larger numbers for longer periods of time, inflicting more stings which cause higher doses of bee venom to be injected in the body. This can trigger a severe and potentially life-threating allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This causes your immune system to send you into shock, and it happens very quickly. You might experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rash or hives
- Severe swelling of the face, lips or throat
- Numbness and dizziness
Get medical help immediately. Treatment typically involves intravenous fluid, epinephrine (reduces the body’s allergic reaction), oxygen, and medicines to help with breathing.
You can usually find the invasive yellow jacket wasp in outside areas like back-yards, parks, campgrounds, and recreational areas. This wasp causes the most allergic reactions. Like its name, the yellow jacket wasp has black and yellow markings.
Signs & Symptoms of a Wasp Sting
Like bee stings, you will definitely know when a wasp stings you. It’s painful. The symptoms are similar to those of a bee sting. Wasps can sting you repeatedly, leaving behind painful welts. But, the pain and swelling should subside within several hours after the attack. Some indications that you may be experiencing an allergic reaction include redness and swelling that increases for two or three days after the sting. You might also experience nausea and start vomiting, along with anaphylaxis, which requires immediate treatment at a medical facility. Treatment will be similar to that of a bee attack.
See UrgentMED for Bug Bite Treatments
We can treat dangerous bug bites and stings, including those that result in severe allergic reactions. Visit our affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network, for fast and affordable emergency care. With 16 convenient locations, we’re the largest comprehensive urgent care network in Southern California.