Bites, Stings and Venomous Things

Venomous critter identification, sting symptoms and wound first aid for Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas

Table of Contents

  • First Aid Kit
  • Glossary
  • Caterpillars
  • Insects
  • Millipedes & Centipedes
  • Scorpions
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Acknowledgements

First Aid Kit

The following are recommended items for a first aid kit: modify to suit your particular needs. When in doubt, always seek advice from a licensed healthcare professional.

  • Adhesive tape (non-allergenic)
  • Antiseptic Ointment
  • Band-Aids (assorted sizes)
  • Benadryl ®
  • Blanket
  • Cold Pack
  • Disposable Gloves Epi-Pen ® (
  • Gauze Pads and Roller Gauze (assorted sizes)
  • Hand Cleaner
  • Plastic Bags
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors and Tweezers
  • Small Flashlight and Extra Batteries
  • Topical Cream containing: Antihistamines, corticosteroids, benzocaine, or menthol (e.g.,
  • Kill®)
  • Triangular Bandage

All agents should be used according to the manufacturer’s use and dosing recommendations.


Anaphylactic shock — Severe and sometimes fatal systemic reaction upon a second exposure to a specific antigen (as wasp venom or penicillin) after previous episode characterized by respiratory symptoms, fainting, itching, and hives.

Antihistamine — Medicines that oppose the actions of histamine and are used especially for treating allergic reactions, cold symptoms, and motion sickness.

Analgesic — A drug or medication given to reduce pain without resulting in loss of consciousness.

Benzocaine — Local anesthetic.

Corticosteroids — Any of the steroid hormones made by the outer layer of the adrenal gland; e.g., Cortisol.

Envenomation — The injection of a poisonous material by sting, spine, bite or other similar means.

Neurotoxic — Toxic to the nerves or nervous tissue.

Systemic Reaction — Affecting the body generally; dizziness, fainting, difficulty breathing, swollen lymph nodes.

Tourniquet — A device, typically a tightly encircling bandage, used to check bleeding by temporarily stopping the flow of blood through a large artery in a limb.


photo of asp photo of buck moth photo of hag moth
Asp Buck Moth Hag Moth
photo of saddleback photo of io moth photo of spiny oak slug
Saddleback Io Moth Spiny Oak Slug
photo of stinging rose
Stinging Rose

Sting Symptoms

Local Reactions

  • Cold or Numb Feeling
  • Severe Body Pain
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Red and Swollen Sting Site

Systemic Reactions

  • Dizziness and Fainting
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes in Groin

First Aid

  • Apply sticky tape (medical adhesive or duct tape) to sting. Assure firm adhesion and then pull it off.
  • Apply topical cream or hydrocortisone.
  • Oral Benadryl® may be taken


  • Systemic Reactions
  • Extreme Pain
  • Inhaled Hairs or Hairs in the Eye


Insect Symptoms First Aid
Fire Ant
Photo of Fire Ant
•Multiple stings
• Severe burning sensation
• Small blister or whitish pustule
• Wash wound
• Apply cool compress
• Reaction far from sting suggests risk for anaphylaxis with future stings
Carpenter Ant
Photo of Carpenter Ant
• Injects no venom • Remove stinger
• Wash wound
• Apply topical cream containing antihistamines, corticosteroids, benzocaine, or menthol
• Or, apply baking soda paste
• Use pain reliever if necessary
Harvester Ant
Photo of Harvester Ant
• Painful bite
• Venom may travel along lymph vessels and create serious medical problems
Paper Wasp
Photo of Paper Wasp
• Multiple stings
• Painful bite
• Swelling
• Wash wound
• Apply topical cream containing antihistamines, corticosteroids, benzocaine, or menthol
• Or, apply baking soda paste
Yellow Jacket
Photo of Yellow Jacket
• Central white spot with red halo
• Local swelling
Bald Face Wasp
Photo of Bald Face Wasp
• Painful sting • Wash wound
• Apply topical cream containing antihistamines, corticosteroids, benzocaine, or menthol
• Apply baking soda paste
Cicada Killer Wasp
Photo of Cicada Killer Wasp
• Typically do not sting
• Have a long stinger
• Wash wound
• Apply topical cream containing antihistamines, corticosteroids, benzocaine, or menthol
Tarantula Hawk Wasp
Photo of Tarantula Hawk Wasp
• Typically do not sting
Velvet Ant Wasp (female)
• Females sting upon extreme provocation • Wash wound
• Apply ice pack
• Take analgesic if necessary

Millipedes and Centipedes

  Symptoms First Aid
Desert Centipede
Photo of Desert Centipede
• Multiple bites
• Very painful
• Swelling
• Lymph Node swelling
• Redness
• Headache
• Irregular heartbeat
• Nausea and vomiting
• Anxiety
• Apply cool, moist packs
• Apply topical creams containing benzocaine
Garden Centipede
Photo of Garden Centipede
Photo of Millipede
• Not dangerous to humans
• Secrete staining chemical
• Chemical could blister skin


  Symptoms First Aid
Striped Bark
Photo of Striped Bark
• Multiple stings
• Local burning pain
• Swelling
• Numbness
• Nausea and vomiting
• Irregular heart beat
• Blood pressure change
• Blurred vision
• Difficulty swallowing
• Cool packs
• Topical medication
• Benadryl® by mouth

*Seek Medical Attention Immediately for face numbness or a metallic taste in the mouth.


Pit Vipers

Photo of Mojave Rattlesnake (neurotoxic) Photo of Timber Rattlesnake (neurotoxic) Photo of banded rock Photo of desert massauaga
Mojave Rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake
Banded Rock Desert Massasuaga
Photo of Mottled Rock Rattlesnake Photo of northern blacktail Photo of western diamondback Photo of prairie rattlesnake
Mottled Rock Rattlesnake Northern Blacktail Western Diamondback Prairie Rattlesnake
Photo of western massasuaga Photo of western pygmy    
Western Massasuaga Western Pygmy    

Copperheads and Cottonmouths

Photo of broad-banded copperhead Photo of southern copperhead Photo of trans-pecos copperhead Photo of western cottomouth
Broad-banded Copperhead Southern Copperhead Trans-Pecos Copperhead Western Cottomouth

Coral Snake

Photo of coral snake (neurotoxic) “Red on Black Venom Lack, Red on Yellow Kill a Fellow” Photo of Milk Snake
Coral Snake *
Milk Snake
Not Poisonous

Bite Symptoms

Mild Envenomation

  • Fang marks, usually paired but not always
  • Mild to severe pain
  • Mild inflammation and swelling
  • No systemic symptoms
Moderate Envenomation
  • Fang marks with swelling
  • Immediate pain at bite site and spreading to surrounding tissue
  • Blood and/or serum may ooze from fang punctures
  • Vomiting, metallic taste in mouth
  • Muscle twitches or tremors
Severe Envenomation
  • Immediate, severe pain at bite site
  • Oozing of serum and blood from fang punctures
  • Rapid swelling, some bruising
  • Metallic taste, numbness of lips , nose or tongue
  • Blurred vision, altered mental state
  • Shock, diffuse or life-threatening internal bleeding
  • Respiratory difficulty, kidney failure

* Symptoms of Coral Snake bites may be delayed for 10-12 hours. If it is likely that the bite is from a coral snake, the victim should be taken to a hospital for observation and treatment.

First Aid

  • Seek medical attention immediately for treatment.
  • Remain calm.
  • Remove any rings or constricting items because the affected area may swell.
  • If possible, wash the bite with soap and water and cover with a clean cloth or dressing.
  • Immobilize the bitten area.
  • Keep the bitten limb level with the heart.
  • NEVER cut the skin.
  • NEVER attempt to suck the venom out.
  • NEVER use ice.
  • NEVER use a tourniquet.
  • NEVER use aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or alcohol.
  • NEVER use electric shock.
  • NEVER try to capture the snake.

Call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for more instructions.


  Symptoms First Aid
Black Widow (Neurotoxic)
Photo of Black Widow
• Pin prick bite
• Tingling sensation
• Muscle and abdominal cramping
• Nausea, vomiting, and weakness
• Difficult breathing
• Benadryl® by mouth
• Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Brown Recluse
Photo of Brown Recluse
• Stinging sensation
• Painful bite site after 6-8 hours
• Pale circle with red spot
• Hot bite site
• Fever
• Joint pain
• Nausea and vomiting
• Apply cool packs
• Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Yellow Sac
Photo of Yellow Sac
• Painful bite
• Swelling
• Tissue damage
• Apply cool packs
• Benadryl® by mouth
• Consult doctor


  • Product created from source material developed by:

      Paul H. Risk, Ph.D., Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas

  • Photos courtesy of:

      Ricardo Bessin, Ph.D., Kentucky Cooperative Extension
      James Castner, UF, Entomology and Nematology Department
      Troy and Terry Hibbits
      Carolyn Houghton Insall, M.S., Central Texas Poison Center
      Jim Kalisch, University of Nebraska, Dept. of Entomology
      Mark M. Lucas
      Jude McNally
      Gary Nafis
      Jerry A. Payne, USDA Ag Research Service, Bugwood. Org
      Jason Penney
      Michael A. Seymour, LSU Agricultural Center
      Emedicine Clinical Knowledge Base
      Texas Department of State Health Services
      The Nature of Things

  • A special thanks to our reviewers:

      Jim T. Criswell, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University
      Jean Hite, Oklahoma State University
      Carolyn Houghton Insall, M.S., Central Texas Poison Center
      William I. Lutterschmidt, Ph.D., Sam Houston State University
      Tracie Nalie, Oklahoma State University
      Paul H. Risk, Ph.D., Stephen F. Austin State University

  • Additional copies are available upon request, or for more information:

      Southwest Center for Agricultural Health,
      Injury Prevention, and Education
      11937 U.S. Hwy 271
      Tyler, TX 75708-3154
      Phone: (903) 877 5896
      Fax: (903) 877-7014

Development and production of this publication was supported by CDC/NIOSH Cooperative Agreement U50 OH07541.

This publication has been reformatted. It was first published by the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education as a corner-bound set of laminated cards, approximately 4' x 6', so that it is convenient to carry. Contact the Southwest Center to determine the availability of the original format. Contact information appears at the end of this publication.

Disclaimer — The information contained in Bites, Stings, and Venomous Things tips cards is believed to be accurate and reliable; however, The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education (SW Ag center) and other affiliated organizations assume no responsibility for any errors appearing in the information. In addition, neither The SW Ag Center or their affiliated organizations assume responsibility for the use of the information provided. The contents of these tip cards do not necessarily represent the official views of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) or any other affiliates.

Call the Poison Control Center toll-free for more information about venomous critters.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More