There are many types of wildlife you may encounter in your quest for deer in Missouri. It could be that you come across a squirrel or a raccoon or something else entirely, up to and including the creepiest and crawliest of things. A good example of a creature that embodies all things creepy and crawly is the spider and Missouri has plenty of them. Spiders big and small call the Show Me State their home with a total of arachnid residents including more than 300 different varieties.
Chances are you have already seen a plethora of spiders as you were out and about preparing for the 2015 deer season. Spiders are commonly found in nature and it is perfectly normal to encounter them there. Although they may not be welcome in your shooting house or at your hunting camp, they probably didn't wait for an invitation to move themselves and sometimes their families into your space.
One spider in particular that does not respect personal space, especially during the colder months, is the brown recluse. Known as one of the three most venomous spiders in the United States along with the black widow which also resides in Missouri, this particular spider is not a fan of the cold. Rather than hunker down and endure like many spiders do by becoming inactive or entering a hibernation-like state known as torpor, brown recluse spiders instead opt to move into cozy, warm places where they hide in the shadows often undetected. While it might not be that bad to have a hidden spider sheltering in your hunting camp, worse news yet is that many brown recluse bites occur when a nice, warm jacket is taken off, set aside, and put back on later, after a spider has made itself at home inside. It then becomes a real problem when that spider decides to bite upon becoming trapped.
Photo: Live Science
Although in many cases the bite of a brown recluse or black widow may not be immediately felt due to its near painlessness, it can be quite dangerous and even fatal. As soon as you notice you have been bitten, clean the affected area and apply antibiotic ointment and a cold compress. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is also advised. Being able to positively identify the culprit spider that bit you is also helpful, but can be tough in many cases. Brown recluse, however, have a fiddle shaped marking on their bodies and black widows have a red hour glass.
As if the small spiders of Missouri weren't enough to worry about, there are some hair-raising, or hair throwing, ones as well. The Missouri tarantula is the largest spider calling the state home with females that are 2 inches and males that are 1 and 1/2 inches in length plus the legs which brings them to around 4 inches in size. They are dark brown and bear red hairs on the carapace and urticating hairs on their abdomen. Urticating hairs are their first line of defense and they will flick these when threatened. Though this may sound like no big deal, being on the receiving end will get you potentially severe skin and mucous membrane irritation. These spiders will also bite when cornered, so ignore them should they pay your camp a visit. Chances are they will scurry on to avoid you, but they do have large fangs and can deliver a bite much like a bee sting.
Though the possibility of sharing your hunting space with spiders does exist, there are ways to limit your interaction. Keep areas free from clutter and as clean as possible. Shake out blankets, towels, and clothing that has been stored prior to wearing in order to evict any trespassing arachnids. When moving about in hunting camps or shooting houses not used regularly, keep your eyes peeled and watch where you place your hands or other body parts for any signs of eight legged guests. Remember that when it comes to spiders, pesticides are typically ineffective so they cannot be relied on to keep a cold brown recluse from paying a visit to your warm camp or dwelling. Sticky traps are your best defense.
Have you ever had a spider problem at any of your hunting facilities? How did you handle it? Share your story in the comments!