by Ryan Huether
Many arthropods have the capacity to inflict pain of some variety. Assassin bugs can pierce you with their beak, scorpions can sting, and tarantulas can kick tiny urticating hairs at you. What all these have in common, however, is that the effects are temporary. You experience pain or irritation for a short while and can then go on your merry way when the pain has subsided. But some arthropods are a little more… intense. They might inject you with venom that causes paralysis, eats away at your flesh, or causes damage to your nervous tissue. They might transmit diseases that have high fatality rates. Or they may simply drive you mad. Whatever else they may be, they are not insignificant to your health if you have a bad encounter with one and a trip to the doctor will probably soon follow.
Black widow spider: this spider is a slick oily black with a bright red hourglass under its abdomen. Its looks make it simultaneously menacing and beautiful. Some people shudder at the thought of a close encounter with one of these while others take the prospect of having one of their own with excitement. The black widow has a neurotoxin that can induce prolonged painful muscle contractions, sweating, and increased heart rate. In about 5% of cases, the bite kills the victim; in most instances, though, the symptoms subside in a matter of hours or days, even without antivenom.
Brown recluse: the brown recluse has a necrotic venom capable of rupturing red blood cells, killing the skin tissue around the site of the bite, and causing fever and vomiting. Death from recluse bites is rare. However, the necrosis that occurs in about a third of cases can cause permanent scarring.
Arizona bark scorpion: another arthropod with a reputation for being deadly, the Arizona bark scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in North America. Its sting can induce severe pain and vomiting, sight paralysis and convulsions. Despite all this, its sting is confirmed to have killed only two people since 1968 in the U.S. You may wonder, why such a terrible reputation for something that has killed fewer people than honey bees (this could actually be asked about any of these arachnids in fact)? Well, south of the border during the 1980s, the scorpion claimed about 800 lives. More than 100,000 people are stung by the scorpion annually in Mexico.
Giant centipedes (Scolopendra): some of these mammoth arthropods with speedy legs can pack an extremely painful bite but, the long term danger to a victim is relatively small. Only one human fatality is confirmed.
In the interest of our employees and customers, Josh's Frogs chooses to avoid arthropods capable of inflicting extreme pain or lasting injury without accurate labeling. However, that is not to say that there is no risk involved whatsoever. A person who has an allergic reaction to an arthropod's venom can die from anaphylaxis. So treat your little bundle of love and venom with respect if you plan to take one on as a pet. Nothing is ever completely safe, but if you take adequate precaution, you can nevertheless enjoy your arthropods.