Spinning the story of the … ‘malmignatta’

patrimoniu di corsica spiderIn Corsican, ‘a malmignatta’ (malmignottao’ or ‘zinefra’), is a venomous spider also known under the scientific name as: ‘Latrodectus mactans tredecimguttatus’ … and happens to be a not too far off cousin of the ‘black widow’ – are we surprised !

The female measures around 15mm (whereas, the males reach 4mm), and can be identifid by black fur, upon which generally 13 abdominal blood red spots can be observed, spreading out within three lines on (and under) the abdomen. The male, although smaller, is just as venomous as the female. Enjoying night activity, one can come across them in the heart of nature herself; in fields and gardens, under stones or stacks of wood. The horizontal web is very irregular, and usually spreads further than hiding places. Often entering houses too, finding refuge within humid spots.

As regards the web, it is woven at a few centimetres from the ground; be it beside the sea, flat grounds or even up to 1000m of altitude … Although a bite is painless, the poison spreads through the organism in less than a half hour, thus provoking acute pain, which in turn will spread throughout the whole body. Numbness, general trembling, nausea and vomiting, cold sweat, blackouts and convulsions, delirium, rapid pulse beat .. symptoms that can be observed. The bite itself is not mortal for adults, but, can leave neurological after-effects: coronary, articulatory, and a slow return to better health. Sometimes, the articular pains can last up to several years. Children having been bitten, must be brought to the hospital urgently. If treated within 24 hours, a bite can generally be treated quite well. Of date, there is no known death that has been provoked by this rather nasty spider.

It is said, in order to protect themselves from bites, certain shepherds and travellers who roamed from one point to another on the island, rubbed garlic on exposed parts of the body, and burnt the skin there where a bite was experienced.

The species is not a particularity to Corsica; proliferating in the Mediterranean basin, along with other parts of the world. It is also to be noted, that the island possesses numerous types of grass snakes, but no vipers.

It’s true, in this photo it appears enormous; in reality it is quite tiny.

Source: Patrimoniu di Corsica Copyright ©

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