Spiders on Planes

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider
Photo: Mike Keeling

Airline baggage handlers are not known for their gentle touch. A package containing tarantulas broke open in the hold of an airplane and baggage handlers noticed a spider roaming free. To the dismay of the passengers, Delta Airlines cancelled the flight. The tarantula, an African Baboon Spider, has a painful bite but it is not deadly. Most baboon spiders are defensive which makes them difficult to handle. They are also shy and avoid people. The hold of a plane is separated from the passenger cabin, so there was little threat. This story got a lot of attention on TV.

A more hazardous spider on a plane incident received much less attention. A passenger seated on a Qatar Airways flight crossed his legs and received a sharp pain. The pain radiated throughout his leg, his leg swelled to twice normal size and the wound burst open. Thinking it would heal on its own, the man took pain medication and went home to recover. The next day the leg was swollen, black and the wound infected. Friends took the man to a hospital where doctors diagnosed the wound as a brown recluse spider bite. Brown recluse venom causes tissue necrosis and this patient appeared to have received a large dose of venom. Doctors removed a substantial amount of necrotic tissue containing the spider venom and managed to keep the wound from further expansion.

People often fear the wrong thing. The big hairy tarantula: Much ado about a little threat. The little brown recluse spider: A much greater concern.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Health, News. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spiders on Planes

  1. Pingback: Spiders on Planes | Living With Insects Blog

  2. This is complete carelessness by Airline Industry. They should do regular pest control inspections with the help of pest control companies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s