August 25th, 2008
01:40 PM ET

Brown recluse is well, pretty reclusive

By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical Producer

I hate spiders. I have always hated spiders, and until last week, I thought I always would hate spiders. But then, in a building reminiscent of a 1970s government office building, I had an experience with spiders that I won't soon forget.

As I walked into her office at the University of Georgia, Dr. Nancy Hinkle, a veterinary entomologist, started to quiz me about the spiders she had sitting on the window ledge in petri dishes. "Which one is the brown recluse spider?" she asked. Being a novice, I picked the biggest, nastiest, hairiest-looking one and said "that's it!"

"You picked the same one as my grad student did,” Hinkle said. “So congratulations, but you're not correct."

Matt – 0, Spider Lady – 1.

Dr. Hinkle gave me a hint about the brown recluse, "They call it the fiddleback spider, because it has fiddle-shaped marking on its abdomen.”

She challenged me again. This time I picked out the wolf spider, which has a banjo-shaped marking on its back (remarkably similar to a fiddle, I might add, on a spider that small).

Matt – 0, Spider Lady – 2.

What I came to find out in that next hour was that the brown recluse was not much scarier looking than your common house spider. The brown recluse is the subject of urban folklore, and for good reason: Its venom, pound for pound, is one of the most toxic substances known to man. But, true to its name, the spider is reclusive. As Hinkle put it, "If you actually see a spider, chances are it’s not a brown recluse."

Very comforting.

In addition to the brown recluse spider being reclusive, it's only found in a few areas of the country, primarily in the midwest, spreading into parts of the southeast. Oh, and one other thing. The brown recluse takes months to make enough venom to kill its prey, so chances are, it won’t waste it on you – something way too big for it to kill – because it would go hungry for a few months.

Still worried that a recluse will come after you? Consider this - the chances of the "fiddleback" spider being in your home, coming out of hiding, biting you, and injecting venom into you are slim. Even if it did, experts say about 95 percent of brown recluse bites go away without complications. But, if you are one of the unfortunate few who do have a bad reaction, you should go to a doctor immediately. Brown recluse venom can cause major damage to tissue surrounding the bite, as well as tissue along the path the venom takes through your body. If it makes its way into your bloodstream, it can cause a condition called hemolysis, where red blood vessels actually burst. The condition can become life threatening.

All in all, I'm still afraid of spiders, but a little less so than before I met Hinkle. Have you had a run-in with a brown recluse?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

« Previous entry
soundoff (644 Responses)
  1. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    You're so cool! I do not believe I've truly read anything like that before. So wonderful to find someone with unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 27, 2021 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sprinter Truck Repair

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other authors and use a little something from other websites.


    June 27, 2021 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 28, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Places Near Me

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this page.


    June 28, 2021 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    I really like it when folks come together and share thoughts. Great website, keep it up!


    June 28, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 28, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 28, 2021 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Rv Service Locations


    June 28, 2021 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Repair Near My Location

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    June 28, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Freightliner Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I needed to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you postÖ


    June 28, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Repair Places Near Me

    I'm pretty pleased to discover this website. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to see new things on your web site.


    June 28, 2021 at 21:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sprinter Service Repair

    I like reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    June 28, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Ford High Top Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 2010 Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Repair Shop Near Me

    Hello! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent information you have right here on this post. I am coming back to your web site for more soon.


    June 29, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Huntington Beach


    June 29, 2021 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 29, 2021 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    There's definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all of the points you have made.


    June 29, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    I used to be able to find good information from your blog posts.


    June 29, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Roadtrek Repair Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Body Damage Shop

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 29, 2021 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 29, 2021 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Rv Dent Repair Shop

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    June 29, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sprinter Van Service Near Me

    I really love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my own website and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Appreciate it!


    June 29, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jet Van Repair Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Conversion Van Interior Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Wheelchair Van Repair

    You are so cool! I do not think I have read a single thing like that before. So wonderful to discover someone with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 29, 2021 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Wheelchair Van Repair Shop

    Itís hard to find knowledgeable people for this subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 30, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Service A Mercedes Sprinter


    June 30, 2021 at 03:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    June 30, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    June 30, 2021 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 30, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    Good post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..


    June 30, 2021 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Winnebago Van Repair Shop

    I blog often and I really appreciate your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    June 30, 2021 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you postÖ


    June 30, 2021 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Van Body Shop


    June 30, 2021 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

« Previous entry
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.