I have polled California county entomologists, vector control personnel and arachnologists regarding the number of spiders that have been submitted to them by the California public and how many were brown recluses.
Despite the fact that one can learn to discern a brown recluse from almost all spiders in 5 seconds, I have seen harmless 8-eyed spiders that were misidentified as brown recluses by 1 3 different physicians, 2 an entomologist and 3 a pest control person.
The brown recluse has been elevated to a major urban legend status very much like UFOs, Bigfoot and Elvis. And yet, the people who live with these spiders rarely get bitten nor do they run around in constant fear.
The biological evidence that is available resoundingly deflates any of the arachno-propaganda that is constantly being given new life with each newspaper story or word-of-mouth tale of terror. How would you feel if a Californian physician treated you for the bite of the non-existent brown recluse and instead you developed advanced Cancer the virulent disease essay of Lyme disease heart arrhythmias, central nervous system disorders which is easily curable in the early stages with common antibiotics?
Other news articles abound when there is the "thought" that a brown recluse might have been found in California. This is a mere fraction of the thousands that undoubtably have been made by the medical community. Additional non-arthropod generated agents have also been labeled as brown recluse bites including: Males retain the coloration of the juvenile striped pattern and are often turned into our department because folks are afraid that they are brown recluses.
If the same percentages were true for California, patients would have already turned in hundreds of brown recluses to their doctors over the last decade and we would be able to easily find hundreds of recluses in the state.
The California reaction to the mythical brown recluse is based solely on the fear of the unknown and the willingness to believe that there is an 8-legged menace running around causing havoc. Of course, none of them were. Yes, indeed, necrotic wounds are occurring but it probably is not a spider doing it.
Are the spiders much sneakier or more aggressive when they cross the state line? But to date, this has not happened despite 1 the overwhelming public concern about the presence of this spider in the state, 2 the false belief that it already is here and causing massive damage and 3 the voluminous collections, spanning several decades and including hundreds of thousands of spiders, by many arachnologists, amateur and professionals alike.
This adult female spider is readily identifiable because of its unique coloration: Actually, he does laugh pretty hard every time I relate a California brown recluse paranoia story to him.
Unfortunately, humans have a low tolerance for spiders in their homes, either because spiders are symbols of danger, unkemptness or arachnophobia. In fact, most of the brown recluse spider bite diagnoses I have heard about have come from coastal and Northern California, in cities where no species of recluse has ever been known to live.
You need to have the "smoking gun". In brown recluses and the south American violin spider there is a distinct violin shape as well on the cephalothorax; in the native Californian Loxosceles species, the violin pattern is rather indistinct and commonly non-existent.
The lay community relies on folks like these as authorities, yet these people go around without the proper knowledge and are continuing the myth of the brown recluse. A more tenable example is that someone COULD win the California state lottery grand prize by buying one ticket a year.
There is no denying that necrotic wounds are occurring in California but as long as people keep alive the myth of the brown recluse, the real causes of these wounds will continue to be a mystery.
It is really amazing that wherever I go the supermarket, dental appointments, on campus, etc. However, the western black widow looks very different as an immature because it starts out life bedecked in tan and white stripes.These are not the opinions of the University of California Riverside however, they are the opinions of a highly volatile arachnologist who is bloody tired of everybody claiming that every little mark on their body is the result of a brown recluse bite and who believe with a religious zeal that brown recluses are part of the California spider fauna despite the incredibly overwhelming evidence.Download