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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brown Recluse and Mediterranean Recluse (Very Rare in Michigan)

Due to the fact that the Recluse cannot live in temperatures of less than 40 degrees, the spider is NOT native to Michigan. In my searches, I have only uncovered four or five accounts where the Brown Recluse has been positively identified here in Michigan. The DNR lists one case and the Entomology Department of MSU has an article listing three cases. Assuming the DNR case is not one of those other three, that would only be four time ever in Michigan. The fifth happened in June of 2013, when Rod Crawford, the Curator for Arachnids at the Burke Museum, positively identified two specimens sent to him by a woman in Livonia Michigan.
The Recluse seems to be the most feared spider in Michigan, even though they are not even indigenous to Michigan. Often when pictures are sent in to me to identify, people do so because they are afraid the spider they found might be a Brown Recluse. If you find a spider and fear it may be a Recluse, look closely at the eye pattern. If the eyes are not in three groups, with two eyes in each group, it is not a recluse. If it has banded legs or stripes or patterned markings on it abdomen, it is not the recluse. If you look at these things and still believe it may be a recluse, please send me as clear a photo as you can. My email address is on the front page near the top. Please, do not discard any spider you believe is to be a Brown Recluse. Even if I agree, the only way it can be positively identified is to send it to a real expert to be dissected.

Michigan Spiders - Brown Recluse-1

Abdomen - Brown and ablong but shade can range from lighter to darker. It is believed that this can change depending on how recently they have fed.

Cephalothorax - Approximately 2/3 the size of the abdomin, it has a darker pattern at the head of the cephalothorax that extends towards the rear with a thin stripe leading towards the rear. The pattern has a shape of a violin, giving the Brown Recluse the knickname of the Violin Spider, Fiddleback Spider, and the Brown Fiddler.

Legs - Long and thin and closer to the color of the abdomen with no stripes or hairs.

Size
- The body is approximately 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch, but can sometimes be a little larger.

Bite Info - It is rare that a recluse will bite. It usually has to be forced to bite by pushing against it and making it defend itself. Of the cases it does bite, most bites have little effect and heal on their own in a couple of days. It is only the rare venomous bite that is cosidered dangerous.

The venom of the Recluse is a cytotoxin, which destroys cells causing the body tissue to deteriorate. The bite is often painless and not noticed for several hours before the infected area becomes irritated. In some cases, the bite is nothing more than an irritation but there is some cases where it can be dangerous. Left unattended, the wound can develop a sore that will continue to grow. Even treated the infected area can create a sizable wound. In some cases the victim will develop symptoms that lead to systemic hemolysis, coagulopathy, renal failure, and, rarely, even death.

Other Notes - Though dangerous, the Recluse is not an aggressive spider. Bites are pretty rare and almost always the fault of the victim. Most bites occur when the spider is in shoes, towels covers when people use them or when someone picks up a box in a basement and presses against the recluse.

Recluse spiders are night hunters and will feed on dead insects as well as living.

It should also be noted that there are thousands of people going to hospitals every year to have what they believe is a recluse bite, and too often doctors are misdiagnosing them. Consider this. In states where the Recluse is common, it is still uncommon for people to be bit by them. Of those who are bit, it is uncommon for the bite to develop the nasty wounds we so often hear about. So if it is so extremely rare for someone in Michigan to come across a Recluse, how much more rare would it be for someone in Michigan to be bit by the infamous spider? How much more rare would it be for someone in Michigan to not only find one and get bit by one, but for the bite to develop a terrible wound? The fact is, if you are here in Michigan and your doctor says you were bit by a Brown Recluse, go see another doctor and have him check you for infections like MRSA and Allergic reactions. Because the odds you were actually bit by a Recluse here in Michigan is almost impossible.

If you are ever bit by a recluse, or ANY other spider, it is important to retrieve the spider (dead or alive) for true identification. I have recently had an expert from Spider Myths (Burke Museum) inform me that even medical doctors often misidentify the recluse spider and it is important that a real Arachnologist is the one to identify it.

Genus - Loxosceles reclusus (Brown Recluse), Loxosceles rufescens (Mediterranean Recluse)

24 comments:

  1. We have spiders in our home that look very much like this. Are there other spiders more common in Michigan that bear a resemblance?

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  2. There are many spiders that are often misidentified as the Brown Recluse, so it is hard for me to answer that and tell you what you actually have there.

    It would help tremendously if you could get a clear picture of one or maybe even kill one with a spray and have the carcass identified.

    If you are not far from the Troy, Madison Heights, Royal Oak area, I would be glad to come look at one.

    If you can get a good pic to send me, or want me to look at the spiders, please only use my direct email and not leave any info in a post here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Keep an eye out for my next spider entry coming soon. I may have the spider you are talking about. We found it today in our living room and I had to save it from the cat, though it had already lost two of its legs. Very similar look to the Brown Recluse, but it did not have the violin and it did not have the same eye pattern. Body size, shape and legs as well as coloring was very close though.

    I want to check into it some more before I spout off what kind it is. I would hate to give misleading information, so I try to check into things before I post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just thought you might be interested in seeing this news article about confirmed recluse spiders in Genesee county last month:
    http://www.connectmidmichigan.com/news/story.aspx?id=649280

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  5. are these spiders similar lookin to the daddy long leg? and do these liv in michigan?

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  6. These are not very similar to the Daddy Long Leg in my opinion. DDL's have longer legs that are much thinner. Personally, I have never seen a DDL with a body large enough to be able to see a violin shape on it. Their bodies are thin and small in stature. Maybe only around 1/4 to 1/5 the length of the legs.

    As for the Brown recluse living in Michigan, to my knowledge they do not. I have yet to see any documentation showing they live in Michigan. The few and rare sitings in Michigan are believed to be cases where the recluse was brought here in luggage or a car on a trip from down south. The winters in Michigan are too cold for the recluse to live through.

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  7. I just got out of a hospital and didn’t want to be back in one until I have my post-op appointment. looking like a Brown Recluse spider.

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  8. not sure if it was the recluse but did some research on the biting and scaring and a bite I had on my calf looks similar to pictures I seen. I didn't know it actually bit me till hours later when a red bump appeared. the next morning it was the size if a 50 cent piece and filled with a clear pus and blood

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  9. hi i live in the upper michigan between iron mountain and marquette michigan i had 3 people that i know there wife"s got biten by a recluse spiders one was my the hip when she was cleaning out her closet the guy told me his wife could put her fist inside the sore she had 2 surgerys to help heal . That happen in iron mountain michigan and so were the other two i am so afraid of spiders specially the recluse after knowing what they did.i hate all spiders wished they were all gone

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  10. Please don't take this wrong, but I would be surprised if you were bit by a Recluse here in Michigan, and I would be absolutely floored if three women were bit in Iron Mountain. Yes I believe you/they had the wounds to show for it. Yes I believe the doctors may have diagnosed them as Recluse bites. Even though I am no doctor, I would have to say those doctors are wrong.

    I have had two experts tell me that Michigan does not have the Brown Recluse. I have looked and looked, and I can find no documentation of any confirmed sightings of the spider except for one a long time ago. And that one was traced to the spider being brought to Michigan when someone returned from a trip.

    Many doctors go to school or do their clinicals down south where the Recluse is indigenous. When they come to practice here in Michigan, they are not aware that Michigan does not have the recluse. So when they see things like MRSA and other infections that are dangerous, or sometimes allergic reactions to spider bites, they remember their training down south and think it is a Recluse bite. It is due to these common misdiagnoses that there is such a great myth and fear of the Brown Recluse here in Michigan.

    This is a myth that I myself have fallen for until I started digging into it more. I have received many emails and comments from people saying they were bit, or they knew someone who was bit by a Brown Recluse here in Michigan. If so many people were being bit, why wouldn't we be finding the actual spiders here? Yet not one of these "bite victims" have said they actually killed or caught the spider and had it identified. Most of them say they never saw a spider at all and woke up with the bite.

    If you here a story that someone was bit by a recluse here in Michigan, please don't give it much credit. If you are diagnosed by a doctor that you were bit by a Recluse, try telling him that experts say there are NO Brown recluse spiders here in Michigan and to please check for infections and allergic reactions. If he will not, go to another doctor who will. Some of these terrible wounds people end up with in Michigan are due to a misdiagnosis and could possibly be stopped early if they are treated for the correct problem.

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  11. Okay seriously.... So if it is "not" a Recluse doing all this flesh damaging effects on these so called 3 women of Irons then "what" the heck is the other spiders called doing the damage?? I guess I would like to know what is also doing the flesh eating damage a Recluse has the known damaging results of!

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  12. Believe it or not, one of the most common spiders in Michigan (and one of the most common to be bit by), is the Yellow Sac Spider. The Yellow Sac Spider uses the same toxin as the Brown Recluse, but at a much lower potency. Most bites from these will have no to little effect, but on occasion they will cause a small blister that will break and leave a wound similar to the Recluse. The only difference is the Recluse wound can grow to around 10 inches across and the Yellow Sac wound will only grow to 2 or 3 inches across.

    Also the MRSA virus/infection (whatever it is) is nearly identical to the Recluse bite. I have read there are other flesh infections that can do similar work, but I do not know the names of them.

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  13. You need to stop downplaying the brown recluse in MI. Yes, it is not indigenous and could not survive outside in our winters. My daughter was bit and had a severe reaction several years ago. It arrived here from a Dell computer box shipped from Texas. We saw it and it might not have bitten her but she accidentally brushed against it on a wall after disturbing the box and some blankets that had been left undisturbed for a long time. Central lower MI not UP. If bitten, get medical attention and draw marker around perimeter of bite area.

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  14. I down play it because it is the truth. It is more ridiculous to have people fearing a spider that 1) They will very likely never see in this state. 2) That actually is not near as dangerous as most people believe. I have only uncovered about half a dozen cases now of the spider ever actually being found in Michigan. Every year I get plenty of stories of people being bit by one but nobody can ever show me proof. They either never see the spider, or didnt bother catching it to have it identified. You said your daughter was bit. You even admit it was a rogue that was brought into Michigan. The odds someone even will find a rogue is extremely low. The odds they will also be bitten is hard to imagine. Since only about half the bites from a recluse will cause a severe reaction, the odds of finding one in Michigan, getting bit by it, and it causing the bad bite? You have better odds of winning the megamillions. I would rather teach the truth than push fear of something they probably will never see in their life.

    ReplyDelete
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