Significance of Spiders (Araneae) As Public Health Pests
  Key Words  
  Araneism, Latrodectism, Latrodectus geometricus, Araneae, Theridiidae, Synanthropy
  Rute Maria Goncalves-de-andrade, Rafaella Marino Lafraia and Rosana De FáTima Shoji
  Spiders are an important part of ecosystems due to their feeding habits which involve predation, especially of insects. This group of arthropods currently includes over 40 thousand described species present on all continents except for Antarctica. They forage in diverse ecotopes and some are resistant to humaninduced environmental changes, becoming part of the synanthropic fauna. Among these species, there are some that can cause arachnidism and therefore are of significance to public health. According to the World Health Organization, four genera of spiders contain species that can cause envenomation when they bite humans. Species from three of these four genera are present in Brazil: Loxosceles, Latrodectus and Phoneutria. Records show a high rate of envenomation from these spiders each year in Brazil which reinforces the importance of gathering knowledge not only on the mechanism of action of the venom from these spiders, which is already widely studied, but also calls for studies on ecology to serve as a basis for the management and prevention of such bites. In the present study, data on the distribution and presence of Latrodectus geometricus in municipalities of Piauí state, reveal the species’ potential to colonize the urban environment, suggesting the need for educational actions aimed at prevention to keep them from becoming urban pests.