Once bitten, twice shy; spiders in Hungary!

Local spider could be the bum biter. Wiki image by Szemes Elek

Not last summer but the summer before, during our holidays in Igal at their wellness centre, I was devoured by a local spider. It managed to bite me on my stomach six times as I slept. It was during the heat of August and my body’s reaction was unbelievable! Swelling, giant red patches with a point of entry full of fluid, puffy infection, pus filled and the unbelievable amount of itching. I had to take antihistamines and Claritin to be able to manage the pain and allergy to it. My body went into fever trying to manage the infection sending antibodies to the area. I was so exhausted and from what, a local spider bite? As far as I know there are not any poisonous spiders in Hungary.

My guess is because I did not grow up in Hungary, mulling around the garden as a child, letting local insects and air-breathing arthropods crawl all over me; I had never been bitten by these creatures before. Therefore, the first time it is understandable that I would have a reaction. However, consistently ever since, as I start to garden in the Spring and the insects come alive from wherever they hide during the cold winters here, I have had strong reactions to insect bites.

At the end of last summer, on a neighbour’s terrace, some very large and somewhat rude Arachnida bit my bum as I sat there chatting with my friends and sipping lovely Italian wine. I always think, “What was that specific spider thinking?” I am going to eat this giant human, bite her numerous times and have her for dinner for the rest of my life! A bit ambitious no? What did he want from me? Is my blood that tasty? Hmm, I do know mosquitos do love me and if I am around you, within a mile radius, the mozzies will bite me and not you. I guess you can say I am your own personal insect repellent! I think they love my sweet Type O blood or maybe it is my pheromones secreting hormones into the air at just the right frequency that insects simple cannot resist me. Not sure why, but I am an insect magnet.

So Friday evening at the end of my day, at the end of my week, as we do on our block; I sat on my neighbour’s cement ledge as the neighbours slowly gather to join in the conversations. I was feeling super weird, exhausted in fact, and I knew something was terribly wrong. My eyes were burning, I felt I was coming down with something. I had spent the day with Angelina; in the garden, hanging up landry, shopping and cooking, and cleaning the entire house, vacuuming floors, scrubbing toilets; in fact a spider could have got me anywhere throughout the course of the day.

You know that I was truly feeling ill, no lie, when I said no to a spritzer with the neighbour girls and opted to go straight home instead. Rare occasion as I am always into a glass before dinner!

Upon examination, in the privacy of my own bathroom, I found seven large bites on my rear end; three giant ones in a row with two smaller ones in between on the right side, and on the other cheek, closer to my leg, there was a huge golf ball sized bite with a smaller one directly next. They had their own heartbeats they were so inflamed! I was literally eaten alive!

I asked myself maybe this is a scorpion bite and not a spider at all! With global warming our temperatures here in Hungary are getting warmer during the summer months stretching longer by a few days on either side of the season since we arrived in 2016. My basil can be planted in May and lasts well in September, and with European produce being shipped from one end to the other, I could see insects travelling and making a nice home here in beautiful Hungary. I mean I did right? Further, when I worked at Safeway, every year someone found a tarantula between the banana boxes; I guess it is possible. Scorpions live in Austria and Italy; only hours away. Food for thought.

The neighbour also told me that when he was a kid he lived on the outskirts of Normafa Park here in Budapest; a mountainous area in the second district with beautiful forest areas with rocky cliffs. He said that they used to have larger snakes and small tiny little scorpions back then, much like those found in Austria and Italy. He said it was forty years ago now, and the climate has changed a lot since he was 12. Also, there was virtually no one in the forests behind his childhood home. In recent years they have built it up as natural getaways for locals, and with development he is sure many species are gone. Though, it would not surprise him if they were making a come back; just the other day he found a meter long snake on the Pilis mountains on a bike ride as he was peeing in the bushes. He said it was a meadow viper!

The only other hypothesis I could mustar is that there might be tiny spiders that attach themselves to our landry as it dries in the heat and wind, and when I put my tights on, they are already inside. However, having lived in southern France, I already know the need to shake out the landry well before folding and putting them away. I am in the habit, well versed on the topic in fact. Also if this were the case, wouldn’t the entire family have spider bites on their bums? Just a thought.

Unless the spiders are living on our outdoor furniture, waiting, hanging out for their next victim to side down? I will make a mental note to check on the underside of all the seats when the rain stops.

Instantly after my bites, I went into fever, and had a few rough nights and days on antihistamines, bug bite creams and gels and daily Claritin trying to get rid of the infection. Today is day five and it doesn’t look so angry anymore, just super itchy and I just want to scratch the living shit out of the it! But no I have self control, and I really do not want it to scar. I can still see the faint outline of the other bite marks from one and two years ago!

What kind of spider could have bitten me?

Are there any scorpions in Hungary?

…because when I Google ‘scorpions in Hungary’ only this comes up!

jra to Budapest and Scorpions
Scorpions in Hungary, picture from their tour poster! <3

…and if these guys bit my ass… I would remember! 😉

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