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Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

A Giant Hairy Scorpion native to Arizona climbing on a cactus.

Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

The first recluse spider bite to be properly documented took place in Tennessee back in 1879, and not long afterward, many South American countries began documenting their own cases of recluse spider bites. Although these early documented cases describe the bite victims as developing tissue necrosis at the site of their wound, the severity of recluse spider bites did not become well known to the American public until the latter half of the 20th century. For the past two decades, the rate of medically significant recluse spider bite incidents have been increasing steadily in the US, and most reported bites are sustained within homes. In fact, some recluse spider species, mainly the brown recluse, dwell mainly indoors where thousands have been collected from single homes. Unfortunately, medical researchers have not yet developed an antivenom for brown recluse bites, and unsurprisingly, medical officials in the US and elsewhere consider recluse spiders a major public health threat.

The majority of reported recluse spider bites are inflicted by the brown recluse spider species (Loxosceles reclusa), but a total of 13 recluse spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, five of which can be found in Arizona. The recluse spider species found in Arizona include the desert recluse (L. deserta), the Arizona recluse (L. arizonica), the Apache recluse (L. apache) and L. sabina. Luckily, the indoor-dwelling brown recluse spider cannot be found in Arizona, but numerous scientific studies involving venom analysis and individual envenomation reports demonstrate that all recluse spider species inhabiting the US are equally as likely to inflict bite wounds that lead to tissue necrosis. In addition to the brown recluse, experts state that the Arizona recluse, the desert recluse, and the non-native Mediterranean recluse spider species are medically significant pests of homes in every area where they can be found. The Arizona recluse is abundant in much of the southern half of Arizona where specimens have been documented as inflicting bites that cause tissue necrosis and even shock. The desert recluse is rarely found indoors, as they prefer to dwell in the open desert, but rapidly expanding urban and suburban areas in southern Arizona may force humans and these spiders to share the same habitat in the near future.

Have you ever encountered a recluse spider species in Arizona?

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