The Brown Recluse Spider Bite and Effects

The brown recluse spider doesn’t go around looking for people to bite.  They aren’t aggressive spiders and try to avoid human contact.  Most bites occur when the spider is caught between clothing and the skin of a human or other situations where the spider feels threatened.

How Frequent are Brown Recluse Bites?

There are an average of 2,500 cases of brown recluse spider bites reported to the U.S. Poison Control centers each year.  Most cases are mild to moderate, with only around 30 being severe cases.

There are usually no deaths for brown recluse bites.  However, brown recluse spider bites can be quite serious and you should seek immediate medical attention.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

When you receive a bite from a brown recluse, there is usually no initial pain.  It can take up to 8 hours till the bite starts hurting.  One of the first signs of a brown recluse spider bite will be an expanding area of irritation.

This will be followed by a skin-killing, necrotic action that occurs a few hours after the bite and continues for days after.

The toxins from the bite spread out from the site of the bite and kill the skin and underlying tissue to form a substantial lesion. The specific toxin involved destroys the membranes that surround the cell of skin and tissue. This skin killing action of proteins in the toxin of brown recluse spider can be especially painful for small children or the elderly.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms

Other symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, fever, rashes, muscle and joint pain. While such symptoms are rare among healthy adults, they can be quite pronounced in people with some sorts of weakened conditions.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treatment

There is not a set of established treatments for the lesions caused by a brown recluse bite. Many have been tried with varied success.

Ice packs and pain killers often give some of the relief required.

How to Reduce Your Chances of Being Bitten

The Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider (scientific name: loxosceles reclusa, also commonly called the brown fiddleback spider) can look formidable, especially one that has full grown to having a body ¾ inch long. The it’s long legs make it look imposing. But they get the name ‘recluse’ due to their natural tendency to avoid contact, especially with people.  The brown recluse is a non-aggressive spider, that only bites out of defense.

Identifying the Brown Recluse

Unlike most spiders which have eight eyes, the brown recluse spider has only six, two in front, two on the sides and two in the back. Since it lives in dark secluded places and prowls around at night, it doesn’t need to see very much. Its other senses suffice.

As you might expect, the brown recluse is brown. Some say it resembles a violin, Maybe you will join me in thinking that likeness takes a little imagination. You might live a long time near some brown recluse spiders without seeing one, but because of the size of a fully mature brown recluse, when you see one you will be impressed.

(click on an image to enlarge)

A Brown Recluse Brown Recluse Spider A Brown Recluse Spider (closeup)

Brown Recluse Spider Habitat

Brown Recluse Habitat in the U.S.The brown recluse likes some human habitations and they can be found in wood piles, sheds, cellars, garages, dark closets, under beds, and other places where it is dry and not often disturbed. They like cardboard, some humans say, because it resembles tree bark. They might be found in shoes that haven’t been worn recently, behind baseboards, behind pictures, near to furnaces.

As their name suggests, the brown recluse spiders are reclusive and they prefer to stay out of the way and out of sight. The brown recluse builds a web, mostly as a hiding place, not as an insect trap. This web will be in some dark corner and it will not be very fancy.

Almost all the American brown recluse spiders are to be found in the southern part of the middle of the United States. Not many are ever found along the Atlantic or Pacific Coasts. Not many are ever seen in the Rocky Mountains or the Northern Appalachians.

Brown Recluse Spider Food

At night this spider goes roaming around for food. Unlike most other spiders, the brown recluse spider is not picky about eating insects that have died somewhere along their way. They don’t have to be the killer of their food.

In addition to looking for food, the male brown recluse spider will go looking for females to mate with at night. The female will lay 40 to 50 eggs inside a coat of gray silk about 2/3 inch long. Each female brown recluse spider may produce several coats with eggs in a month. As you can see, given enough other dead bugs to eat and plenty of dark nooks and crannies, a rambling house with few human inhabitants can gain a substantial spider population.