Brown Recluse Spider
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While all spiders can be a bit scary, three spiders, the brown recluse spider, the hobo spider, and the black widow spider (Latrodectus species) lead the list of spiders of medical importance in the United States.
That is to say, their bites can be a cause of medical concern.
The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa), a resident of many Southeast and Midwest states, makes the human population in these areas wary of any brown spider they come across.
While they come in a variety of shades of brown, the violin marking on the cephalothorax serves as the best field identification clue. Additionally, the legs do not have bands
The common name recluse is important. Like other spiders, they are typically an outdoor species that shy away from human contact. Problems typically arise when males wander indoors and a human inadvertently gets bitten.
In more severe cases, a brown recluse female establishes a nest within a house. Usually they are found in garages, crawlspaces, attics, wall voids and the like.
In these instances, a house can become infested. Females lay eggs in flattened egg sacs that are frequently attached to the underside of objects. Up to 40 spiderlings may hatch from a single egg sac. A single female may produce up to five egg sacs in a summer.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
"The brown recluse spider cannot bite humans without some form of counter pressure, for example, through unintentional contact that traps the spider against the skin. Bites may cause a stinging sensation with localized pain.
A small white blister usually develops at the site of the bite. The venom of a brown recluse can cause a severe lesion by destroying skin tissue (skin necrosis). This skin lesion will require professional medical attention."
If you suspect you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse, capture the spider and bring it with you when you seek medical attention.
On the positive side, it's important to note that Brown Recluse bites are rare. When they do occur, an article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine notes,
"In our series, long-term outcome after brown recluse spider bite was good. Serious complications were rare, as was the need for skin grafting. Because the vast majority of bites heal with supportive care alone, aggressive medical therapy does not appear warranted."
© 2011. Patricia A. Michaels.