The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) are tiny but deadly. However, they don’t go around biting people as a habit, and they don’t live all over the U.S. The fear of being bitten by one is akin to the fear of plane crashes, Ebola, or shark attack: the consequences are bad, but the odds of it actually happening are smaller than you think.    

A study was done about ten years ago to see how bad people were at identifying Brown Recluse spiders. People, focusing on people who should know or claimed to know, were asked to send in their spiders. Brown Recluse spiders were submitted from 49 of the US states and from Canada. They exist, however, in only 17 states and not at all in Canada. There is a spider that lives in California, a very common house spider that had never been properly studied. It does look a bit like a Brown Recluse. So many of those were sent in (California is NOT one of the 17 states Brown Recluse spiders live in) that spider experts were able to use the collection of those spiders, not Brown Recluse but some other species, to do the first major study of its anatomy.

Dang it, wouldn’t you know that I have to live in a brown recluse habitat? There’s plenty more you should know about not worrying about these spiders in Greg Laden’s review of the book The Brown Recluse Spider by Richard Vetter at ScienceBlogs. -via Catherine Scott

(Image credit: UC Riverside)

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from Wikipedia : " Pain and other local effects worsen 12 to 36 hours after the bite, and the necrosis develops over the next few days. Over time, the wound may grow to as large as 25 cm (10 inches). The damaged tissue becomes gangrenous and eventually sloughs away"
Wow, I guess you were lucky :)
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Quite a few years ago in west Tennessee, I got a sore on my arm that hurt for a few days. Then a black bruise spread up and down the inside of the arm. I asked a gynecologist about it, and he said, "Looks like a spider bite." He assumed I would ask another doctor about it, I guess. But I didn't have health insurance, so I didn't.

The black part eventually spread from my armpit to my elbow. The flesh got really spongy. It got worse for about six months, then got better until it was gone in about a year. I never learned what bit me, and I'm still curious. Everyone I knew said it was a brown recluse, but what do they know?
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