Today I’d like to commemorate the several Chilean recluse spiders who have died at the hands of Edwin or myself over the past couple of months. After the one I blogged about in September, I’ve decided to document their tragic deaths, basically so that I can have the pictures as trophies.
Now, I must first say that I love spiders. I had never been afraid of spiders up until this point—between living in Vermont and adoring Charlotte’s Web, I’ve never had a compelling reason to dislike them. I’d never met a spider that could kill me before.
And then I saw my first araña de rincón, the Chilean recluse spider. She was perched carefully above the doorframe. She was quite large, maybe a little under two inches including the legs. Edwin yelled, killed her, and then I became afraid of these Chilean recluses.
Meet the Chilean Recluse
Why are they so scary? First of all, they’re in your house. Second, I’m not a huge fan of necrosis or possible death.
The spider’s names tell us quite a bit about its behavior: it is often found in corners (rincón) and is reclusive, meaning it usually won’t attack you. In fact, a Chilean recluse probably won’t bite you unless it’s pressed against your skin. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, since they’re reclusive, they hide in dark, damp places, such as your bathroom cabinets, your closet, or that pile of clothes that you left at the foot of the bed last night. And you don’t know they’re there.
The other bad thing is that if they bite you, your skin turns into a gaping, infected wound that either does not heal or else heals very slowly. If you don’t believe me, just search “Chilean recluse spider bites.” Not for the weak of heart.
Ways to identify the araña de rincón
- Brown body and legs; the thorax is slightly lighter than the abdomen and often has a mark on it that resembles a violin (hence the nickname “fiddleback spider” in English)
- About one to four centimeters in length, including the legs
- Moves incredibly fast in comparison with other spiders and Spiderman
- Has six eyes instead of eight
Please note that this is quite different from the araña tigre, which cannibalizes the araña de rincón. This spider has long, spindly legs that can be three times the length of its body.
Two things that come to mind when you see la tigre: 1.) O, blessèd spider! Depart not from my bedside! 2.) SH***********OT WHERE ARE THE ARAÑAS DE RINCÓN???
Prevention and treatment of bites
The summertime is the busy season for Chilean recluse spider. They reproduce and hunt more in the summer than any other time of the year, and so you should be especially wary if you’re here to enjoy the heat.
- When getting clothing, shoes, or other items from a closet or dresser, make sure to shake them out before putting them on.
- Check the bed sheets before going to sleep.
- Don’t play in closets or under the bed… or anyplace you might go if you were a spider looking for a dark, quiet place to KILL.
- Clean regularly! Move your furniture and other things around to scare those suckers away.
- DON’T KILL THE TIGER SPIDERS (see pic above): they eat the Chilean recluse and do you no harm! Seriously, check it out.
If you are bitten:
- If possible, catch or kill the spider so that you can bring it with you for identification
- Usually there won’t be pain at first, but the bite will gradually start to redden
- Apply ice to the bite to slow the process
- Wash the area with soap and water
- Get to a hospital for immediate medical attention. This is very time sensitive!
And with that…
Happy New Year!
Stay cool! Stay safe! I, personally, will be heading back to the beautiful snow and ice of the Green Mountain State in another two weeks, so I will be recluse free!