Chilean Recluse Spider

The Chilean Recluse Spider (Loxosceles laeta) is a species of venomous arachnid that is native to South America. Although found throughout South America, it is most common in Chile. It is now found elsewhere throughout the world, including North and Central America, Finland, and Australia. In North America, it is well established in Los Angeles, Vancouver BC, Cambridge MA, and Florida.

This is one of the larger species of recluse spiders, growing to 1.5 inches in length (including the legs). It is brown like most other recluses. There are markings on the dorsal area of the thorax, with a black line that looks like a violin pointing to the rear of the spider. This marking gives rise to common nicknames of this species (Fiddle back spider and Violin spider). The coloring may vary from light tan to brown and sometimes the violin marking may not be visible. Unlike most spiders, which have eight eyes, the recluse only has six eyes arranged in pairs.

The Chilean Recluse builds irregular webs that commonly include a shelter made up of disorderly threads. The web is often built in woodpiles, sheds, closets, garages, and other dry places that are usually undisturbed. It is frequently found in human dwellings. It leaves the security of the nest at night to hunt for food. People get bitten by them when they unintentionally squeeze them in clothing or bedding. It is not an aggressive spider and usually only bites when accidentally disturbed. The venom of this spider is potent and its bite usually leads to severe reactions, which can include death. Some bites are minor and cause little problems, but most leave serious skin lesions and ulcers that can take years to heal. Damaged tissue sometimes becomes gangrenous.

Initial bites from the Chilean Recluse are usually painless and are not noticed right away. Over time, however, the wound may grow to over 10 inches in diameter. First aid involves the application of an ice pack to keep inflammation down. Aloe vera is good to help soothe any pain that exists. Prompt medical care is key when a bite is noticed. If captured, the spider should be brought with the patient in a clear, tightly closed container. However, it is likely that once the bite is noticed, any nearby spiders are most likely not the culprit.

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