Southern Africa is home to 6 species of spider are grouped under the name of Button Spider.
• 4 Black button spiders
• 2 Brown button spiders.
All button spiders have neurotoxic venom. The bite is felt as the spider sinks it’s fangs into the skin. After about 10 minutes, pain spreads to the lymph glands closest to the bite site. Muscle cramps and joint pain develop. Abdominal muscles become rigid. Facial expression becomes contorted, eyelids and lips swell and the jaw muscles contract. The skin becomes sweaty and clammy. Patients may suffer from anxiety.
Symptoms last for about 5 days, but complete recovery may take a few weeks. In serious cases treatment involves the use of antivenin. In many cases symptoms are much reduced and hospitalization is not necessary. However, when in doubt always seek medical advice.
Deaths from Button Spider bites is less than 1% worldwide. So far there have been no confirmed deaths from Button Spider bites in southern Africa. Brown Button Spider bites are less severe than Black Button Spider bites. In the majority of cases the victim condition worsens progressively and then suddenly improve. Antivenom is seldom necessary. Because of the pain felt at the time of the bite these spiders are usually collected and positively identified.
Brown button spiders (L. geometricus
) have an hourglass on the underside of the abdomen. Black button spiders (L. indistinctus
) do not. We do not have Black Widow spiders (L. mactans
) in Africa.
In the USA L. mactans
is responsible for a numebr of deaths. It is an aggressive spider, more venomous than any of our Latrodectus spp.
I would hazard a guess and say that you have Brown Button spiders in your garden. Just able everyone does. If the spider has a red hour glass shape under the abdomen then it is L. geometricus
. L. indistinctus does not have this hourglass. L. geometricus
have spiky egg sacs, L. indistinctus
has smooth egg sacs. Remember that these are web bound spiders that never leave their web (after their first moult). You, or your daughter would have to put your hand (body part with exposed skin) into the web of the spider and squash it, in order for it to bite. These spiders are shy and docile (an exception is L. karrooensis
that is known to be aggressive)
In short I wouldn't worry if I were you. We have all lived with these spiders in our gardens. The majority of us do not even know they are there.
Hey Imberbe! I like what you have written!