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What you need to know about the Brown Recluse Spider

In Florida, there are actually three types of recluse spiders:  the Brown recluse, the Mediterranean recluse and the Chilean recluse.  Certainly of the three, the brown is the most well known and highly feared.  None of these spiders are native to Florida – they have all been introduced from elsewhere.  Luckily, they are still considered rare in our state.

How dangerous are they?

Last year, it was reported that a gentlemen in from Polk County, Florida died from a brown recluse spider bite.  Although reported, it is unconfirmed whether he was bitten by a brown recluse and whether the bite contributed to his death.

What is known is that there are approximately 300 recluse spider bites self-reported to the Florida Poison Control network each year.  The experts believe that many of these are different types of spiders, simply because there are fewer than 20 total confirmed findings of the spider in Florida within the last century.

Protecting yourself

A recluse is aptly named as these spiders like to be reclusive.  They hide in tiny, hidden, out-of-the-way spaces, which is where they are almost always found.

The best way to protect yourself from a recluse spider is to watch where you put your hands.  If you are reaching for something and can’t see your hands as you’re reaching, then it’s best to wear gloves.  If you do get bit, seek medical help right away.  In many cases, the bite will heal after a few days, but in other cases, there might be complications.  The first sign of complications usually include pain, a fever, and blisters and swelling at the site.

How to identify a recluse?

Recluse spiders are brown in color and have long skinny legs.  They are usually about a third of an inch in length and can be identified by the violin-shaped mark on the back of the head.

Just because you see a brown spider with long, skinny legs does not mean you have found a recluse.  The chances are you have misidentified it, but due to the extremely poisonous nature, it’s best to take precautions.

What to do if you see a recluse

If you do see a spider and you believe it might be a recluse, it’s best to contact a professional.  Not only is it important to confirm whether it’s truly a recluse or not, it’s also important to handle them with care.  And if it turns out that you have really found a recluse, then you will want to make sure they are taken care of completely!

19 Jan

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