Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer Staff Writer 

Dangerous Chilean Recluse Spider Colonizes Los Angeles County

All recluse spiders have potentially dangerous bites and should be avoided

 

The California Desert Recluse spider can cause painful bites, even necrosis, if pressed against skin. In California, they are found mostly in eastern desert areas.

Tucker was a macho Karate teacher, the kind of guy boys looked up to and wanted to be, especially when they found out what their dads really did for a living. And he was brought low, hospitalized by a brown recluse spider bite.

Or so he thought. The truth is, it was probably a different member of the recluse family.

Experts deny that the Brown Recluse spider, fairly common in Kansas and other southern plains states, exists at all in California.

California does have Black Widow spiders, the most common spider in California. And we also have a variation of the Brown Recluse, called the Desert Recluse, but they are not as dangerous as their brown cousins.

When we consider dangerous creepy crawly animals and bugs, we first distinguish between venom, poison and pathogens. Venom comes from a bite or sting and is injected into a person. Poison is ingested, and pathogenic animals like mosquitoes, transmit diseases.

The venom of all recluse spiders produces necrotic lesions that are slow to heal and may require skin grafts. The wounds are also prone to infection. Rarely, the venom is carried by the bloodstream to internal organs, causing systemic effects

The Chilean Recluse has a potent bite, they have colonized Alhambra, Monterey Park and East LA.

All Loxosceles or recluse spider species that have been tested have venoms similar to that of the brown recluse and all should be avoided. In general, though, they are not aggressive and commonly occupy human dwellings without causing problems, says Wikipedia.

The Chilean recluse has a more potent venom, which results in systemic involvement more often. This spider was accidentally introduced to the Los Angeles county, and has been noted in Alhambra, Sierra Madre, and Monterey Park.

It seems to be confined to this limited area, even though it has been known there for over 30 years.

Many types of skin wounds are mistaken for or assumed to be the result of a recluse spider bite. Several diseases can mimic the lesions of the bite, including Lyme disease, various fungal and bacterial infections, and the first sore of syphilis. It is important to identify the spider so as to initiate proper treatment, and to consider alternative diagnoses if no spider was seen.

 
 

Reader Comments
(2)

Blargblog writes:

You begin the article with a narrative about Tucker and then you abandon it. You never return to this thread. I wanted to know more about the circumstances of Tucker’s bite. Unless Tucker was someone you totally invented as a device. Either way, shoddy writing.

Logic writes:

So in an article about the Chilean recluse you provide pictures of the desert recluse and Jennifer Aniston. Top-notch journalism!

 
 
 

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