The Spider - Loxosceles reclusa
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Brown Recluse Spider

What does the brown recluse spider look like?

The body shape often bears a violin-shaped marking on the carapace thus giving it the name "fiddle back spider" or "violin spider".  (Not all species display this violin-mark.)

Recluse spiders vary in size from the size of a dime up to a half-dollar.  The female can be twice the length of the male.
Recluses come in various shades of tan. 
Recluses take five years to reach full size.

Note:  The  "Loxosceles reclusa" has a couple of cousins in the United States. One is "Loxosceles arizonicus", and "Loxosceles unicolor". They are easy to mistake for the brown recluse, markings are similar. The bite has similar symptoms to "the Violin Spider" but much less severe.

Incidentally, the name "Loxosceles means "six Eyes." These spiders have 6 eyes as apposed to eight. They are arranged in a forward facing band across the head of the spider.

 

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Where does the brown recluse spider live?

These spiders have been reported throughout the United States but are found more often in the South.

Spider populations live in certain natural geographical areas, but in our modern society spiders can be transported anywhere in the world overnight due to global freight and passenger transportation systems. Here is an informative article about a spider hunter in Los Angeles: "Spider Woman" by Burkhard Bilger.

They are nocturnal hunters occupying dry, dark areas, such as attics, closets, and woodpiles.

BRSs are not aggressive toward humans.  Bites occur when the spiders are forced into contact, such as when a person is cleaning out the attic or rolls over on it in bed.   Most people do not feel the bite and never see the spider.

Note:  The "Loxosceles reclusa" is a native of South America.


What does the spider bite look like?

Initially it may be confused with a mosquito or other insect bite.  With magnification, two small punctures can sometimes be seen.  In older lesions there is increasing tissue damage progressing to a small blister containing dark serum, and associated skin discoloration indicating beginning necrosis, usually within one to two days.  Tissue destruction may continue over two to several weeks and may finally result in slough and tissue loss. Healing is very slow and local symptoms may persist for months.

Their bite contains a  powerful histotoxin, a refined digestive fluid.

Note:  A Hobo spider (Tegenaria agrestis) can cause the same symptoms as the BRS. They are spreading in the NW states, apparently starting in Seattle around 1930. It is possible that some bites reported in this region, resulting in necrotic arachnidism, may stem from the Hobo, not the BRS.


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