Recluse Spiders

Loxosceles sp.

The popular belief is there’s an abundance of Brown Recluse spiders living freely in Florida.  This is not true.  Here’s some information about recluse spiders that are sometimes found in Florida.

Three species of recluse spiders have been found in Florida:

1.    The Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa)

2.    The Mediterranean Recluse (Loxosceles rufescens)

3.    The Chilean Recluse (Loxosceles laeta) 

No breeding populations of these species have been found in any Florida county in a natural habitat.  A few verified specimens have been found though, but these have been from buildings or vehicles.  

Over the years, I've received about half a dozen recluse spiders to ID.  Yes, they were all recluses, but not the Brown Recluses.  They were all identified as the Mediterranean Recluse.  Now isn’t that interesting?  

Several years ago, the company I worked for was involved in fumigating a home in the Winter Haven area for recluse spiders.  Can you guess which one?  It was the Chilean Recluse brought in from South America by the owners of the home.  Yes, recluse spiders do show up from time to time.  Most are identified as the Mediterranean Recluse.  

I  remember receiving a spider from the Kissimmee area…Once again, a Mediterranean Recluse.  Yet, many Florida doctors still insist on blaming every necrotic looking, so called “bite” on Brown Recluse spiders...Go figure!

Here are some facts about recluse spider bites or, for that matter, spider bites in general.

Many believe spider bites are quite common, which simply is not true.  Spiders have no interest in us as a food source.  They feed on insects and other invertebrates, not on human blood.  The truth is spider bites are quite rare.  That’s the reality of it. 

There are many insects out and about that do sting, bite and feed upon us.  We have mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and bed bugs, just to name a few.  These known blood feeders have the potential to cause a reaction from our bodies that may be, and often are, misdiagnosed as a spider bite.  Let’s not forget about bacterial and fungal agents such as Staphylococcus infection and Sporotrichosis, both of which have been misdiagnosed as spider bites.

Most spiders are venomous, but few have the ability to bite us.  The bottom line is bites from spiders especially recluse spiders are Extremely Rare!  This is awesome news, don’t you think?


© Daniel D. Dye 2019