Brown recluse spiders pose a threat to public health in all states where the spiders are abundant. Unfortunately, the brown recluse can be found in nearly all areas of Texas, but most reported bite cases occur in the central region. It is well known that the brown recluse, unlike black widows, inflict necrotic bite wounds, and recent research has found that these wounds result from particular compounds in brown recluse venom that cause tissue necrosis. Considering the danger posed by this spider species, it is important for residents of Texas to recognize the specimens when they are encountered.
While black widows are relatively easy to identify on account of their jet black exterior, bulbous abdomen and conspicuous red hourglass design, the brown recluse appears similar to many common household spider species. In fact, researchers have found that people often mistake wolf spiders, the southern house spider, woodlouse hunter spiders and fishing spiders for the brown recluse. The brown recluse can be identified by its three pairs of eyes, which is unusual as most spider species possess four pairs. The brown recluse also has an inverted violin-shaped marking on its dorsal thorax, but upon finding a specimen that you suspect of being a brown recluse, its best not to make an attempt to handle the spider in an effort to locate this marking. Most brown recluse bites occur indoors, while most black widow bites occur outdoors. In rare cases, brown recluse bite wounds may require amputations or skin grafts in order to remove infected skin.
Brown recluse bites are moderately painful, and shortly after sustaining a bite, a red halo forms on the wound. If you ever sustain a brown recluse bite, be hopeful that no other symptoms occur following local pain and redness, as 40 percent of bite victims develop necrotic tissue at the site of the wound. At this point, a bite victim will want to rush to the emergency room as quickly as possible, as infected necrotic tissue spreads rapidly. Permanent scarring occurs in 13 percent of all brown recluse bite cases, in rare cases, a finger amputation or a skin graft become necessary. It is rare for bite victims to develop systemic symptoms following a brown recluse bite, but in rare cases bites will prevent blood from clotting, red blood cells are destroyed and a toxic measles-like rash develops.
Have you ever seen one of these spiders in your home?