VERIFY: Did Black Widow Spider really bite a 5-year-old girl?

VERIFY: Spider

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - VERIFY: Sources

--Alfred Aleguas, Florida Poison Control
--Dr. Rick Dart, Rocky Mountain Poison Center
--Rick Vetter, Entomologist UC-Riverside
 
It was a story that went viral last month.  A 5-year old girl living in Mendon, Mass. received a black widow spider bite on her leg while she was playing outside of her home.

 
We checked with several spider experts around the country who say there's little chance the girl was bitten by a black widow.
 
Female black widow spiders are the most dangerous and most feared spiders out there. You can recognize them by the red hourglass figure on the bottom of their stomach.  But those types of spiders are not necessarily native to all parts of the country.
 
News outlets from across the country reported 5-year old Kailyn Donovan was treated for a bite from a black widow spider.  Kailyn's leg was turning black and purple and pictures show a big black and blue problem area for the little girl.
 
But we showed the pictures and provided the information to some of the leading experts on spiders around the country who definitively said it wasn't a black widow.
 
Managing Director of Florida Poison Control Alfred Aleguas noticed some problems.
 
"It looks more like a local infection but it's certainly not a widow bite," Aleguas said.
 
"You'll feel an immediate stinging sensation.  You might see a mark or area that you've had a bite,” he said.  “It'll be red initially but it doesn't really turn black and blue."
 
The girl's parents say their daughter never felt a bite and it took a few days before turning black.
 
"The bruise starting turning black a few days later. If you got bit, you would know in a few minutes,” he said. "Hypothetically it could have been a recluse bite.  That looks like some sort of bite that got infected."
 
Two more sources backed up Aleguas that it wasn't a black widow.
 
Dr. Rick Dart from the Rocky Mountain Poison Center also took a look at the photographs and immediately told us there's no way it was a black widow spider bite.
 
"The bite is never that large and you typically don't see black coloring in the middle of the wound," Dr. Dart said.
 
We also contacted Rick Vetter, a retired University of California, Riverside entomologist is one of the foremost experts on spiders, particularly the brown recluse spider.  He told us he doesn't believe a black widow would bite the child because any black widow is extremely rare in Massachusetts.
 
Vetter also said bruising is not a symptom of black widow bites.
 
"The symptoms are wrong and the location is wrong leading me to believe it's not true," Vetter said.
 
Put the opinions of all three independent experts together and we can verify the story is false.
 
 

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