For decades the most feared spiders in the United States were black widows. Black widows in the US comprise three species, the western black widow, the southern black widow and the northern black widow, which is just about enough black widows to pose a threat to people living in every state within the contiguous US. While Americans continue to view black widows as dangerous and terrifying spider species that can inflict potentially lethal bites, these spiders are no longer the most feared spiders in the US. Now, the spider species that keeps Americans up at night is the Loxosceles reclusa species, better known as the “brown recluse.”
Residents of nearly every state within the contiguous US have claimed to have spotted brown recluse spider specimens within their homes, yards, and in the wild. However, the brown recluse only inhabits 16 states, and these spiders can only be found in limited habitats in most of these states. Unfortunately, the brown recluse inhabits almost the entire state of Texas. The vast majority of purported brown recluse specimens submitted to research labs by citizen scientists all over the US do not turn out to be brown recluse specimens; instead, the brown recluse is often confused with common spider species such as huntsman spiders, southern house spiders, spitting spiders, funnel weavers, and orb weavers. These mistakes are somewhat understandable, as brown recluse spiders resemble many other common species, but all brown recluse specimens have a violin-shaped marking on their cephalothorax, which is the body part that all eight legs are attached to, and the brown recluse can also be distinguished from most other spiders for its six eyes.
Brown recluse spiders are also known for infesting homes in large numbers, as one indoor infestation in Kansas saw more than 2,000 specimens trapped by pest control professionals. Brown recluse bites are also well known for causing tissue necrosis, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms that can lead to organ failure. According to researchers, a little more than half of all reported brown recluse bites healed on their own with no lasting medical issues, and most bites produce localized pain, swelling and redness. However, if you believe that you have sustained a brown recluse bite, medical attention should be sought out as soon as possible.
Have you ever spotted one or more brown recluse specimens within your home?