Summer Safety — Poisonous Animals and Insects of Texas

Artwork of poison animals / insects.

To avoid bites and stings:

  • Learn to recognize venomous animals in your area.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Do NOT handle venomous or unfamiliar animals.


Western Diamondback Rattlesnake


Characteristics:

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.
  • Body Length is commonly 3 to 4 feet long, but may be larger
  • A series of diamond-shaped blotches runs down the length of its back, with a light border surrounding each blotch.
  • The background coloration may be tan, brown, or gray.
  • A series of rattles is found at the tip of the tail.
  • These snakes are nocturnal.

Habitat:

  • These snakes inhabit dry, rocky, shrub-covered terrain where they can conceal themselves inside crevices in the rocks or in mouse holes.

Bites:

  • When disturbed it usually stands its ground, lifts its head well above its coils, and sounds a buzzing warning.
  • If you hear a rattlesnake shaking its rattle, it's issuing a warning, and if the warning is ignored it may bite.
  • The pain from a bite is immediate and severe.
  • The bite may be accompanied by swelling, weakness, sweating, chills, faintness, dizziness, elevated or depressed pulse, nausea, or vomiting.


Copperhead

Characteristics:

Copperhead snake.
  • Body Length is commonly 2 feet long
  • A series of reddish-brown hourglass shaped markings run down the length of its back.
  • The background coloration is pale tan to reddish-brown.
  • These snakes are nocturnal in hot weather.

Habitat:

  • These snakes inhabit partly shaded areas, such as leaf piles beneath trees, or alongside logs and stones in wooded forests.

Bites:

  • These snakes are responsible for most poisonous snakebites, but their venom is only mildly toxic.
  • Symptoms of the snake's bite are similar to that of the rattlesnake but less severe.


Fire Ants

Characteristics:

Fire Ant.
  • Worker ants are about 1/8 inch long.
  • Females sting, and are reddish brown.
  • Males are dark brown.

Habitat:

  • Mounds are above ground with loose soil, resembling gopher diggings.
  • Mounds are generally numerous and conspicuous, but may not be obvious in dry weather.
  • Mounds are often found along driveways, walkways, patios, and at the base of fence posts and trees.

Bites:

  • A burning sensation occurs immediately.
  • A fluid filled pustule develops within a day or two and may persist for several days or more.
  • Numerous bites usually occur.
  • Secondary infection is common.
  • Allergic reactions to stings are possible.


Brown Recluse Spider

Characteristics:

Brown Recluse spider.
  • Adult Spiders are grayish to dark brown with a leg span about the size of a quarter.
  • A violin-shaped, dark marking with the neck of the violin pointing towards the bulbous abdomen appears on the back near the head region.
  • Both the male and female spiders are similar in appearance and equally toxic.
  • The immature stages closely resemble the adults except for size and a slightly lighter color.
  • These spiders are nocturnal.

Habitat:

  • These spiders prefer undisturbed areas such as, under furniture, behind baseboards, under piles of wood, and often hide in cracks and crevices.

Bites:

  • Although bites are serious, there is little pain at the time of the bite.
  • A red ring develops around the bite area.
  • The skin begins to slough off; creating an open wound that can take months to heal.


Black Widow Spider

Characteristics:

Black Widow spider.
  • Female spiders are larger and more venomous than male spiders.
  • Female's abdomen is shiny, usually jet-black, rounded, and globular, often with a red hourglass mark on the underside.
  • Female spiders frequently hang upside down in the web (making the red hourglass visible).
  • The leg span of the female spider is about the size of a quarter.

Habitat:

  • These spiders prefer dark or shaded areas such as under furniture, in latrines, in hollow logs, in shoes, or outside under rocks and in debris piles.

Bites:

  • There is little pain at the time of the bite
  • Slight redness and swelling and two faint puncture marks may appear at the bite.
  • Pain becomes intense in one to three hours and may continue up to 48 hours.
  • Pain usually progresses from the bite up or down the limb, finally localizing in the abdomen.
  • The abdominal muscles may become rigid and board-like with severe cramps.


Scorpion

Characteristics:

Scorpion
  • Scorpions have eight legs and two lobster-like claws.
  • The body length averages between two and three inches long.
  • The abdominal tail is segmented, can curve upward, and terminates in a venomous stinger.
  • Females may carry young on their backs.
  • Scorpions are nocturnal.

Habitat:

  • Scorpions prefer dark, moist, undisturbed areas, such as woodpiles, cracks and crevices, and under rocks.

Sting:

  • A sting is quite painful and felt immediately.
  • Swelling and discoloration at the sting may persist for several days.


page last modified on: 6/3/2014

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