A variety of spiders occur in houses and outbuildings and it is inevitable that they often come into close contact with man. Most spiders will avoid physical contact, but when they are accidentally touched or squeezed, they might bite in self-defense . The small spiders however, are frequently unable to pierce the skin with their fangs. 

​Very few spiders are potentially harmful to man. The action of the venoms of the medically important species may be influenced by the following:

  • The size of the spider and the amount of venom injected. In most cases only a single drop is administered.

  • The part of the body where a person is bitten. A bite near the head is more dangerous than one administered on extremities.

  • The age and health of the person. Young children and ill persons may encounter greater problems.

  • The sensitivity of an individual to the venom. Just as some people are more sensitive to bee stings, the same holds also in respect of spiders.

  • The species of spider that administered the bite. The type of venom differs between species and it is therefore important to positively identify the spider so that the correct treatment can be given.

Research, Products and Services

  • CD-rom available on the medically important spiders and scorpions of southern Africa

  • Posters (for sale)
    Spiders of medical importance
    Scorpions of medical importance