The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider

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Interesting. One of my brothers-in-law was bitten by something (he was told it was a brown recluse spider bite) several years ago. He and my sister had been camping in Alabama. He eventually had a good sized chunk (fist sized) of damaged flesh removed from his calf. (We think that it got to that point because, in spite of his constant comments about how the area around the bite hurt like hell, he refused to go a doctor until the area around the bit began to look positively horrid.)

In this foothill community of San Diego County there is the usual flurry of FB Recluse Phobia after chain mail accounts intensify in the spring. Most of the community is aware that we have the black widow and now the brown widow, with the latter becoming more prevalent and a little conjecture that this is a transition area for the desert recluse. Given the venomous nature of those three arachnids it was a bit amusing to see more hysteria directed at the gradually more common appearance of sun spiders here (actually a solpugid) because they have those jaws, are pretty quick and try to get in a persons shadow on our hot days.

Ah, Greg, if ONLY I could finagle a way [= find the time] to read Vetter’s book. I really enjoyed your review, though.

Makes me very nostalgic for my youth, which I vaguely recall as having occurred sometime in the middle Eocene. As an EMT, teaching advanced first aid classes in college, I was the local specialist on “Bites and Stings of Venomous Animals.” And so, to illustrate my lectures, I accumulated fantastic slide collections of animals and lesions, plus many many great specimens from cooperating physicians, herpetologists, and archeologists. It was a blast.

And I can say from personal experience that black widow spiders make awesome pets. But then again, I suppose that depends on your definition of “pet."

By Joseph M. (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Some workers for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) had a joke data sheet posted up on some cubicles that took into account peoples' confidence they had ID'd an animal correctly. The one I saw dealt with the cougar, as there were numerous cougar sightings coming in, but evidence for actual cougars, outside of escapees, was sparse.

After the checkbox asking, Did you see a cougar?, the next question was Were you drinking? Other questions were, Have you ever seen Bigfoot? Do you see UFOs and aliens? Are you sure it wasn't a dog? A deer? A bear? A raccoon?

Wish I had grabbed a copy for myself as there were some humorous references alluding to many of the reasons why people misidentify animals.

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 06 May 2015 #permalink

I wonder if some of those nasty skin injury cases might be "bitten by whatever" and "whatever" was carrying some kind of staph germs that caused a nasty bacterial infection?

Years ago I read something by an amateur spider expert saying that California (SF Bay Area) has "hobo spiders," which produce bites that have "recluse-like symptoms," but the actual cause of the symptoms is bacteria carried by the spider. I was thinking this might apply to other types of insect/arachnid bites.

Yes, but I live right in the middle of brown recluse land. ... I moved from new York which makes my fear of spiders ten times greater, as we don't have much in th le way of venomous anything.... The only killer we have in new York is white, fluffy and cold! (Both my grand father, and great grandfather died of cardiac problems while shoveling snow ) a sad story indeed.
. nevertheless I am terrified of these eight legged creepy crawlers! I check in my blankets and bed every night because I hear they like to hide in clothes and blankets ..... If there is anything else I can do to repel spiders, please let me know.

By rebecca gossett (not verified) on 08 May 2015 #permalink

Hmm... my sister and a cousin live in NC, and both were bitten by spiders identified as brown recluses. Also, the Science Museum in Durham, NC has an exhibit on them. Yet that map says they don't exist there? Something is wrong here.

I grew up in Northern California, my grandfather was bit by a recluse & it ate almost completely through his elbow.
I moved to Arkansas, I continually see these bites on people.

Oh. Its terrifying

By tamika thomas (not verified) on 19 Jun 2015 #permalink

I read the commentary on the brown recluse spider I've caught a few spiders in here that I assume or brown recluse spiders because people in the past and told me that that's what they look like period is there anyway I can send in a picture of the one or the two that I caught to determine whether it is indeed one or not. I did look at the map where it says or they're commonly located at and granted I'm not really in that area but close to it. Anyway I was wondering if there is any way I can possibly sending a picture and have someone determine whether it is a brown recluse spiders I've been seeing or if they're just wolf spiders

By Cheryl John's (not verified) on 08 May 2017 #permalink

Just spent 4 days cleaning ot the shed in my back yard. There were dozens of black widows out there, lots of small brown spiders, and one huge brown spider with an interesting design on its abdomen. Non of the spiders I encountered bit me, but my neighbors have warned me about the Brown Recluse. I'd love to read Vetter's book on them so I won't live in dread of finding any more when the time comes again to clean out the shed.

By Joyce Lynn Murray (not verified) on 11 Sep 2017 #permalink