Bites from these buggers By Dr. David Hepburn

“What a beauty!” rejoiced the exterminator as he lifted up the fibreglass batting to reveal a steroid soaked spider the size of Saskatoon “We love these guys. A few more of these sweethearts and you’ll have no more problems with carpenter ants in this house!” As thrilled as Mr. Pestilence was to discover that I was breeding Godzillaspiders, I was not particularly placated by the phylum of insect that now dominated my real estate and my frontal lobe. I laid my head on the pillow that night, no longer concerned about my house disintegrating into sawdust but rather plagued with visions of herds of hungry tarantulas burrowing under my silk sheets in search of something tastier than antchops.

It didn’t help when I recalled the fact that the average North American will ingest, while sleeping, three spiders in their lifetime. Since learning of this nocturnal snacking habit, I sleep with one eye open knowing some daredevil spider might pop down my gullet into my stomach where it will spend the night dancing the eight legged cha cha while feasting on jujubes and Denny’s Grand Slam. I’d much prefer that spiders just took a few nibbles at my hide and be done with me.

Black Widow Spider-David-Hepburn
Black Widow Spider -Dr. David Hepburn


Imagine Bernie the Brown Recluse just hanging around the woodpile maybe working on his website or leering over at Black Widow Wanda who has just finished off a nice meal of a beetle or a botfly or a husband. Suddenly a pair of massive human hands reaches in, disturbing this happy arachnid scene and…

“Doc, I think I have a bite of some sort.”

“Looks like a fresh spider bite Bloggins. In fact so fresh that the beast could be on you right now.” At this point a horrified Bloggins usually begins the dance of spider evasion, frantically patting his clothes and hair as he undresses as if his shorts were on fire.

“Will I die?” he pants.

“Yes, one day. But nobody has died of a spider bite in 10 years in North America. So relax. If you were a child and were covered in Black Widow bites then you might have some serious problems requiring antivenim, otherwise just wash the wound well and slap some meat tenderizer on that bite to neutralize the protein.”

Hornet- Dr Dave Hepburn
Hornet- Dr Dave Hepburn


When Betty Bee is disturbed while cross pollinating her daisies she might get upset and set her stinger deep into your skin. But she that she has a barb attached to her stinger that prevents her from pulling it out of her victim. When she attempts to fly away, the barbed stinger is anchored so solidly to the stingee that it tears Betty Bee’s belly, eviscerating and mortally wounding her. This is why if you listen closely while being stung you will hear “BzzzzOHCRAPbzzz.” Too bad bee, or not to bee.

Wasps on the other hand have no barbs and enjoy stinging you several times. If stung by a bee, carefully scrape off the stinger with a knife or credit card (cost of stingerless sting: priceless). Throw some meat tenderizer and some ice on it. You might also use baking soda and even an aluminum-based deodorant (for perspiration-free bites). A localized swelling at the site of a sting does not mean allergy. But if each sting leads to more intense local reactions, allergies may develop. If a serious allergic reaction occurs it will likely do so within 20 minutes. Eyes and skin will itch, vomiting and labored breathing usually follows. If allergic then carry a dual injection emergency allergy kit at all times or you might be providing the bees with… more daisies.