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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/black widow bite and blood sugar


Can a black widow's venom change my body's ability to handle sugar? Basically, I was recently bit by a black widow and now whenever I drink sugar in my coffee I have headaches. Never had a problem with this before and the headache feels similar to the one that accompanied the bite with acute nausea. How long will the body suffer from toxicity after being bitten? Is it possible that I still have the venom in my body and eating the sugar is causing a rise in the level of toxins or is it completely unrelated and coincidental?

Dear Kate - Black widow venom is a neurotoxin, and would have no effect on how your body metabolizes sugar. The neurological symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks; see for a detailed article. I can only suggest that you consult a physician about your headaches that appear to be sugar-related.

Hope this helps,

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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