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Myth of the Brown Recluse (ucr.edu)
20 points by apsec112 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments



Black widows have a much worse bite than brown recluses. A black widow bite won't kill you, it'll just make you hurt so much you'll wish you were dead. There's antivenom but it's not without its own side effects so sometimes your best option is just to "ride out the pain." Contrast this with brown recluses, which rarely bite and when they do it's often painless and easy to treat.

I have so many black widows living in my house I've given up trying to get rid of them. I leave them alone and they take care of flies and leave me alone. No brown recluses live in my state, but still people here worry far more about the benign, nonexistent brown recluse than the much more potentially dangerous and prevalent black widow. Or they get all bent about the big tarantulas here, which are so harmless that little kids (who know the truth) collect them and keep them as pets.

Snakes are a similar story. We have a lot of rattlesnakes where I live, and they're dangerous if you get bit and don't go to the hospital. A better plan is just not to get bit, and that's generally pretty easy with a snake unless you surprise it. I relocate rattlesnakes when I find them in my yard and my neighbors call me to relocate them from their yards, but the prevailing mentality in most people is to kill the snake first and ask questions later. Which is a shame since most snakes in the U.S. are nonvenomous and all snakes decrease the population of vermin like rodents that carry nasty diseases like plague and hantavirus.

People need to get over their prejudices.


I live in Kansas, and hate spiders in general. However, I am not particularly afraid of the rather common brown recluse. What scares me are the black widows (quite rare in central Kansas). Kinda funny that in California the black widows are less feared than the recluses!


My uncle was a doctor in Kansas City at a pediatric hospital. He was a toxicologist, and specialist in brown recluse spider bites.

The author of this piece and my uncle most likely knew each other well, it seems they've published papers quoting each other and some pop news stories about brown recluse spiders mention both of them.

Brown recluse bites are definitely thing, and particularly dangerous for small kids. Not super common, but he threat is real.

One article says he used to see about a dozen bites a year, which increased in recent years to about two dozen.

Just because Rick Vetter wrote this article specifically about not finding them in Cali, it doesn't mean they're something to be ignored where they're more prevalent, ie the Midwest.


Grew up in Kansas, live in California now. I suppose I am cautious of both.

I'll tell you, I was freaked out at how many Black Widows I saw when I came out here. I now more or less expect any pile of wood, any bucket on its side, any low deck to have Black Widows under/in it (and I'm generally right).


No brown recluse spiders and (soon to have) recreational pot... it's practically paradise compared to Oklahoma!




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