Florida Critters: Poisonous or Not
By: Dr. Bhumi
Upadhyay, Northeast Pediatrics
us all outdoors, whether it be walking, biking, swimming, or
playing. Florida has many not so nice critters that we should
know. We will discuss few of the common bites or stings that we
encounter and how to handle them. For all bites or stings that
have an allergic reaction, immediately call 911. Allergic
reactions will be difficulty breathing, heaviness in the chest,
swelling of lips and tongue, difficulty talking or swallowing,
feeling faint or nervous.
First, the common
fire ant mound that we invariably step on when at the park will
create an itchy pimple like red bump. It will itch for days. You
should apply an ice wrap or baking soda to the site, give an
antihistamine and apply anti-itch cream to the site.
Bee or wasp
stings may have no evidence of a sting site or it may have
stringer at the site. There will be pain and swelling at the
site. You must remove the stinger and clean the area. Apply ice
wrap or baking soda and give pain medication and antihistamines.
Spider bites are
slightly more complicated because there are 2 spiders that are
poisonous. The black widow is a shiny black spider with a red
hourglass shape on the abdomen. Its bite usually leaves no mark,
but symptoms like muscle spasms, vomiting, and headache may
start. You should clean the site, apply cool compress and bring
to the nearest hospital for observation. The brown recluse spider
is brown with a dark brown violin shape on its back. Its bite
does leave a red ring around a blister. Clean the site and go to
the nearest hospital for observation.
can be painful. The Florida scorpion is not poisonous. Clean the
site, apply ice and go to a medical facility to get a tetanus
snakebites that occur in Florida are the pit vipers and the
eastern coral snake. The pit vipers are known for their large
triangular heads. They include the rattlesnakes, cottonmouth and
copperheads. If bitten, remove all jewelry and tight clothing
near the bite, keep the involved extremity below the heart level,
do not apply tourniquet or ice. Do not try to suck out the
venom. Go to the nearest emergency room. The eastern coral
snakes can be mistaken for the nonpoisonous snakes. Both have
red, yellow and black colors. Remember, “Red touch yellow,
kills a fellow, red touch black, venom lack.” Same first aid
applies as the pit viper and must go to the nearest hospital.
Florida is home
to many stinging caterpillars. They have irritating hairs covered
with poison. The site will have a row of welts. You need a apply
adhesive tape to the site to remove the hairs, clean the site,
apply cool compress and elevate the extremity frequently in the
first 24 hours.
water creatures also. Jellyfish and anemones will inject poison
when touched. The site will be red and swollen. Never rub the
site. Immediately rinse with sea water, vinegar or alcohol. Then
apply shaving cream or flour to the remaining tentacles and scrape
off with forceps or dull knife. Stingrays, catfish, scorpionfish
and lionfish have venom-coated spines that cause puncture wounds.
Soak the site in hot water (110 degrees) for 60-90 minutes to
inactivate the venom. Go to the hospital for tetanus booster and
removal of any foreign body.
summertime is fun but be safe and knowledgeable of our little
Florida critters. More information can be found on the Florida
poison control website.
Upadhyay, a Board Certified Pediatrician and active member of the
American Academy of Pediatrics, graduated from the University of
Miami six year Honors Program in Medicine. If you have questions
about this article or your child email Dr. Bhumi at
email@example.com. We are accepting new patients
please call to get to know the doctor 526-PEDS
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