Spider Bites

You can blame one of my work colleagues for this post. She sent round an email with photos of a bite from a Brown Recluse spider. A rare affect of the spider's venom is called Necrotic Arachnidism, which basically means the infected skins dies. It only happens in about 10% of bite cases apparently, and the affect depends greatly on the individual and the amount of venom, as well as the speed of treatment (the faster the better).

Now, I am scared of spiders. What I mean is: I. Am. Scared. Of. Spiders! Even pretty small ones. My first instinct is to freeze, it takes some willpower to overcome it. I don't know what triggers my primeval survival instinct, the legs, the movement, the alien look, but it triggers them just nicely. It's worse if I don't have any shoes on and increases in correlation to my lack of clothes. Anyway, the pictures were horrifying, which just intrigued me more, so off I went to find out more.

On my travels I came across a database of BR bites, with stories from the affected people. Some make harrowing reading. Some of the pictures are stomach churning, none moreso than the guy who had a bite on his thigh (warning: not for the faint hearted).

Anyway, some notes on the Brown Recluse I have found while hunting around:

  • It is liberally spread over most of the continental US (no two maps I found about their coverage agreed)

  • 90% of bites are harmless

  • If bitten, seek immediate medical attention and try to keep the spider so it can be used for identification

  • There has never been a death from a confirmed Brown Recluse bite

  • They like quiet, dark corners

  • They only attack when they feel under threat

  • Shake out clothes and shoes, don't leave clothes piled on the floor, make sure bed sheets do not touch the floor, wear gloves when moving items from dark corners of storage rooms

  • Use spider traps to reduce numbers

  • They tend to congregate in large numbers wherever they are found (find one, find many) -- someone caught 2000 in 6 months in their house and 8 kids caught 60 in seven minutes

  • They estimate that 60% of BR bites are misdiagnosed

  • The chances of being bitten are very small

I've got no idea who originally took the photos that were on the email, but I got my copies here


  1. RĂ©,o

    Damn! That's discusting! :-s

  2. Shannon Marie

    I lived in Kansas last year, which happens to be ridden with the "brownies". I didn't find many of them in my apartment until my friend got bit by one in his own apartment down the street. He went to put on a pair of trousers in the morning and got bit on the leg twice. One of the bites was signifigantly worse than the other, but it still put him out of work for a week while he recovered. Then I started to notice them everywhere and went crazy spraying bug spray everywhere. When I moved back to California (where we have the far less frightening black widow spiders) I even sprayed all my moving boxes. To this day, those little brownies are the only arachnid I fear.

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